Over the last year, God has been leading me down a path of gradual repentance in the area of procrastination. I have been busier than ever, yet, somehow, I am still reaching the end of the week without having finished my most essential tasks.
I keep a calendar. I keep multiple lists. I have the practical time-management skills in place. But meaningful change in this area still eludes me. So, I’ve been praying for God’s help. I’ve sought counsel. And I keep trying.
Last week, I read where Eugene Peterson wrote:
“I am busy because I’m lazy. I indolently let others decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself… By lazily abdicating the essential work of deciding and directing, establishing values and setting goals, other people do it for me.”
These words sank deep into my soul. Because of laziness and a desire to please people, I have allowed other people to do the “essential work of deciding and directing” what I will focus on each day. Rather than setting goals and sticking to them, I let myself be driven by the things that comes up every day. As a church planter, there are a thousand things vying for my time; a new project, a new person, a new problem to grab my attention.
“I am busy because I am lazy.” That’s profoundly true.
Here is what God says in Scripture:
“For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2 Th 3.11-12).
This is exactly what Peterson is getting at. Procrastination is not always about delaying work. It’s also about being busy doing the wrong work, the work that is decided by circumstances and directed by what seems urgent.
I love how Paul counsels busybodies. He says, “We command and encourage in the Lord.” This is the language of faith. Our repentance must be rooted in relationship with Jesus. His grace gives us freedom from the guilt and shame that busybodies feel. His steadfast love gives us confidence to focus on what he has uniquely gifted and called us to do. His power gives us strength to do our own work and trust that God can handle everything else.
Wrestling against procrastination has been a lifelong struggle for me, and I don’t expect to have it all settled any time soon. I’m sure that’s why Paul finishes his challenge with this: “Brothers, do not grow weary in doing good” (2 Th 3.13).
PS – While writing this long-overdue blog, I have resolutely ignored seven phone calls.
The struggle is real.