The Procrastinator’s Gospel

(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on June 3, 2019. You can find it here.)

“God has promised forgiveness to your repentance; but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.”

(St. Augustine)

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. When it comes to procrastination, I find myself on the struggle bus. It goes a little something like this:

Step 1: Receive the assignment.

Step 2: Plan out dates to conquer the assignment with flying colors. Imagine blowing kisses to a cheering crowd.

Step 3: Get busy with other things. As previously mentioned dates come and go, convince self that I work best under pressure.

Step 4: Drown out growing anxiety with honestly anything other than working on the assignment.

Step 5: Pull an all-nighter at the last minute.

Step 6: Turn in the assignment at the deadline. Experience a mix of relief, shame, and determination to change.

Step 7: Repeat. Ad stinking infinitum.

I’ve unconsciously applied this process in almost every area of life. As much as I loathe crash-landing at the finish line, procrastination persists in dogging my heels and invading my schedule on a regular basis. My heart needs a dual approach to lessen the stranglehold of delay: how to minimize it and how to speak the gospel over it.*

Putting things off occurs for specific reasons (for example, mine is most often because of an overwhelming need to impress), so it’s crucial to identify what’s really happening. Have I taken on something I shouldn’t have? Something I’m not equipped for? Something I’m not excited about? Am I expecting perfection? Do I assume anyone else is expecting perfection? Wisdom comes in really handy here. I breathe more freely when I maintain realistic hopes and stick to what God is calling me to do. Focused responsibilities + more level-headedness = better time management.

While shrinking procrastination is fantastic, I need the gospel for the leftover bits. This sounds like preaching a sermon to myself about how I’m incontrovertibly wanted apart from my performance, how the only opinion that really matters is my Father’s. His sovereign plan can’t be thwarted. My worth, security, and identity are found exclusively in Christ, and the Spirit Himself will produce the fruit of peace and self-control to fill my great chasm of need. I have nothing to hide, nothing to fear, and nothing to prove. Because God’s strength shows up in my weakness, I’m free to fail and repent and try again in response to transforming love.

We’re called to portray a King who does all things well. But what if one of the best ways I can personally depict that is by failing well, driving my struggle bus straight to the cross and crying out for the One who saves? Yes, I should aim for excellence. But in thinking more about what Christ has already done than about what I still have to do, my eyes and calendar are set on something that infuses the details of life with purpose. So if you’re a fellow procrastinator, join the gospel song—preferably sooner than later.

*If procrastination is an issue for you too, I highly recommend Glynnis Whitwer’s Tackling the To-Do List.

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