Tuesday, March 17, 2015
How procrastination hurts you and the kingdom of God ...
In that way, procrastinating hurts both you and the kingdom of God.
We like to fool ourselves that by getting our idea or intention down on paper (or onto an electronic list) that we've acted. But when it begins to stay on that list week after week --- once we begin to procrastinate --- often the only way the items come off the list is by our failing to turn them into reality. Once we let time get away from us, our failure ratio increases.
That's when regrets are born and big costs are paid.
Such was the case for eighteen-year-old Fabian Gonzalez, a bright, talented, motivated high school senior on the brink of graduation. Waiting for him in the fall was a $32,000 scholarship to attend Northwood University. But before he could realize his dreams or explore his full potential, his life was cut short in a tragic traffic accident.
But unlike so many other teen accidents, there were no drugs, no alcohol, no crazy antics. Fabian didn't die recklessly trying to dodge the rules. He died recklessly trying to obey them. The news reported his father saying, "He was in a rush trying to get home, because we gave him a curfew."
It's unclear what distracted young Fabian that night that caused him to lose track of time and find himself racing to meet his parent's curfew and expectations. Had Fabian not allowed himself to become distracted, he would likely have left for home in a timely way, driven the speed limit, and arrived alive.
Things begin to go very wrong when we procrastinate, and regrets are hatched.
The Huffington Post reported the following about regrets ...
"Joe Robinson, author of the new book, 'Don't Miss Your Life,' makes the case that one of life's most dogging of emotions, regret, may just have a beneficial purpose: to prod us to step out and take action. According to Mr. Robinson, 'researchers have found that the biggest regrets come not from what you do but from what you didn't do.' It's the course untaken, known as the 'inaction effect' in one study, which produces more regret than actions that don't work out.
"Other research shows there's more intensity to the regret that comes from lost opportunities and that it stays with you longer. Since we 'seem to be wired to not leave possibilities on the table,' why then do so many of us fall prey to the 'inaction affect'? Robinson explains that it is 'because we're wired with some other tendencies, too --- fear, procrastination, cynicism, prior disappointments.' These negative psychological agents work hard to hold us back from experiencing life to the fullest. 'Life is short,' he concludes. 'Regrets are forever'."
If the regrets from procrastination and lost earthly opportunities are haunting, how much more the regrets that come from lost spiritual opportunities? Fortunately, we don't have to allow "... fear, procrastination, cynicism, or prior disappointments" to lull us into the "inaction effect." Look at how God has enabled us ...
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline," 2 Timothy 1:7.
God enables and expects us to apply that power, motivation of love, and capacity for self-discipline to overcome procrastination and accomplish something with our lives, and for His kingdom. Through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, we can overcome the challenges and excuses to our busy schedules and live more purposefully and more fully (perhaps more simply!). That's what the Apostle Paul challenges us to do ...
"So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do," Ephesians 5:15-17.
Jesus takes His call on our lives to be something serious --- serious enough that truly "important" things must become secondary in order to heed and obey His call. Look at this example that Jesus gives us of how expects us to respond with action to His call and instruction for us ...
"He said to another person, 'Come, follow me.' The man agreed, but he said, 'Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.' But Jesus told him, 'Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God," Luke 9:59-60.
That same urgency and immediacy is what Jesus expects of US as He says to His disciples today, "... I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you ..." Matthew 28:18-20a.
To obey Christ, we have to overcome procrastination. That might mean clearing our schedules, re-prioritizing our commitments and even some relationships, and it will likely mean taking action that could be both bold and controversial.
Obedience to the call of Christ and direction of the Holy Spirit in our lives does not mean adding God's direction to our to-do list, it means to take action now! Anything short of that will set you on the fast-track to spiritual failures that you will sorely regret.
Are your procrastinating with getting done the things you should do? Or are you acting now on what Christ has called you to do?