Kevin Berryman, who is the Minister of Youth at Koinonia Christian Center Church in Greenville, NC, recently quoted Bishop Rosie S. O’Neal. She said, “Procrastination is the audacious belief that you will have the chance to do tomorrow what you have the opportunity to do today.” Please read that quote again because it is very important. Have you ever noticed that when you procrastinate on something, the task that needs to be accomplished never changes? Sometimes its difficulty increases. If you must complete the task and you do not have the option to delegate it, you are not avoiding the task. You are only avoiding the struggle to get started.
In chapter 18 of the Gospel of Luke, a man known only as “The Rich Ruler” approaches Jesus. He asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied with what appears to be a standard answer that reflects the 10 Commandments. When this ruler indicates that he has kept those commandments since he was a child, Jesus said that he lacked only one thing. Can’t you just imagine everyone that was listening? I believe that all who could hear were listening with great anticipation. Jesus said, “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then, come follow me.” The Scriptures tell us that this “Ruler” became very sad and walked away. He began to procrastinate, was even “bound by” the task that Jesus had given him.
Based on your relationship with Jesus, what has He told you to do that you have not started to do? If you have started, is there something about which you are poorly motivated? Jesus told the Ruler to sell his possessions, give to the poor, and then return to follow Him. How do you need to focus on Jesus, and not on the task that is difficult to start? Why is it so hard?
Practical suggestions to avoid procrastination include ensuring you have clearly defined priorities, creating a “to do” list that reflects your priorities, designing rewards for completing tasks or even steps toward completing a larger tasks, and keeping the desired end result in your mind at all times. Zig Ziglar said that you need to make a list of the things you need to accomplish each day. Then, number them in order of their priority. Once you have done that, start working on number one. If you spend all day long working on the number one prioritized task on your list, then you have just spent your day working on your top priority. Ziglar proclaimed, “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now.” If you looked back at the end of each day, how often would you see that you placed the vast majority of your time and energy on those things that you have prioritized? How often would those things that you prioritized be a reflection of the things Jesus has called you to do?
Christians often boldly express, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Yet, we often struggle to start or finish what Jesus has told us to do. If you knew you could not fail, how would your expressions of worship, your initiation into God-directed tasks, and your overall sense of yourself as a Christ-follower change? Are you like the “Rich Ruler” in that you are seeking Jesus to find out how to inherit the Kingdom of God, only to discover that God’s priorities and your priorities do not match? Did you notice that Jesus promised the “Rich Ruler” that he will have treasure in Heaven after he sells his wealth and gives to the poor? Whatever it is that you prioritize, remember that we are to “…seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33 niv). Apparently, the “Rich Ruler” had the “audacity to believe” that he would have the “chance to do tomorrow” what he had the “opportunity to do today.