Why do we procrastinate?

FEAR AND PROCRASTINATIONThe new year is often a stimulus for change. New Year’s resolutions abound. We may even be bold enough to share them with others. After all, we don’t want to still be eating Christmas cookies in February, nor buying Christmas gifts in March. We know we cannot live like December the other eleven  months of the year.

While we may start the new year fresh with resolutions intended to change us, by the second week of January a familiar friend shows up: procrastination. He reminds us:

  • It’s too cold to exercise this morning, you can always start tomorrow.
  • You can make up your Bible reading later in the week when there’s more time.
  • Why hurry with those resolutions, you  have the whole year ahead of you.

Often in my personal battle with procrastination, I’ve assumed I only needed to be more diligent. Work harder. Get up earlier the next morning. Only to discover, that when I got up earlier, I still didn’t get to the task I was supposed to get up earlier to do. That is because there is an underlying cause for procrastination that most of us fail to deal with: fear.

We’re afraid we might fail again. We’re afraid we’ll make the effort to change – really give it our best shot – and it will go unrecognized. The truth of the matter is we’re afraid, that while we really want to make a difference in this world, our life may not make much of a difference after all.  Starting something and quitting clearly feels like failing, but not starting something until tomorrow doesn’t seem to carry the same stigma. Still, whether we quit before we start, or quit after we start the end result is the same: we were unable to accomplish what God wanted us to do that day.

The Bible is filled with characters who sensed their own inadequacy, and were afraid, yet still stepped out on faith. Feeling a sense of his personal weakness, Gideon did most of his work at night (Judges 6:, 15, 27). One of the leading hero’s of the Jewish faith, Moses, claimed a stuttering problem (Exodus 4:10). Joshua feared he would be unable to lead as well as his predecessor (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9).

Procrastination could have played a part in these men’s lives. Can’t you hear it’s voice: Gideon, wait until you feel braver. Moses, work on your speech impediment for a few months before you go back to Egypt. Joshua, you need a few more years developing your own reputation before you lead.

Each of these men stepped out on faith, in spite of their fear, and God used them. One strategy for overcoming procrastination is to face that fear head on, and then act by faith not by fear. Procrastination doesn’t say “quit” it says “wait,” but in the end it’s all the same.

Getting victory over anxiety — Part 3

There are certain things in this life which we can control, and others which God alone is to handle. For instance, while we are to control how we respond to others, we cannot control how they respond to us (Rom. 12:18).  We are to control how we react to authority, but we can’t control how they react to us (Rom. 13:17).

Those who struggle with worry have a tendency to be anxious about the things they can’t control. In so doing, their attention is often diverted from the things they can (and should) control.

That is why, for the one who is anxious, this second principal is so important. Change your mind, not your circumstances.

God controls your circumstances (Dan. 4:34-35), but he expects you to control your mind (Phil. 4:8). So if you struggle with worry, you will have to change the way you think.

The worrier has a tendency to let his mind run wild. Like a scared child running in a dark forest, every shadow is a potential enemy.  The anxious person tends to believe that if he can think about something in advance he can avoid it. Yet, God controls our circumstances, we need to bring our thoughts captive, and trust him with our future.

I have found one verse to be the most helpful in the retraining of the worrier’s thought patterns.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things (Phil. 4:8)

Years ago I realized that the 8 qualities within this verse were to set the parameters on my thinking. If something was true, honorable, or right I could dwell on it. If it was not, I should not. This is great help for the one who worries. Most of what we worry about doesn’t actually come to pass, hence it is not true.

Perhaps you are thinking, “But the things I am worrying about actually could come to pass.” Yes, but they haven’t, and the worrier usually thinks about events in the future with certainty not possibility. He tends to think about future things as if they are true, when in fact they have not and quite possibly will not, occur.

I like to imagine that these 8 qualities were intended to form the parameters on my thinking. They are 8 walls within in which I am given complete freedom to think. Within those 8 walls it is impossible to jeopardize my communion with God.  Unfortunately, you and I often desire riskier thinking.

The picture of a stop sign served as a great reminder to control my thinking. It is good when I’m thinking within the parameters. When I am not, it is good to say, “Stop! Think on these things.”

By the way, anxious thoughts cannot occur inside the parameters. So come on now, “Stop! Think on these things.”

For additional thoughts on the subject go to: https://philmoser.com/2011/11/18/the-effect-of-scripture-on-the-mind/