Rhys helps us consider procrastination.
Full disclosure: ironically I missed the first (and second) deadline for this article. I’m still not great at this. I tell myself ‘I work better under pressure’, or joke that leaving things to the last minute, is ‘part of my process’. In making plans and organising life, or finishing projects and meeting deadlines; I seem to say daily: ‘you can do it tomorrow’, ‘there’ll be time later’. I do the things that take no effort, and shy away from the things that are hard. Sound familiar?
It turns out, my ‘process’ isn’t really a process, and is in fact, just one massive excuse to put things off and feel ok about it. Except that it doesn’t work. There is always an unsatisfied frustration that looms over me. My life ‘process’ doesn’t match how we are called to live as Christians (Colossians 3:23-24). My procrastination and laziness is sin.
While thinking this through, I was reflecting on Proverbs. It paints a pretty brutal, almost comical, picture of laziness and procrastination through a character: ‘the sluggard’. This character is contrasted with another: ‘the diligent’. ‘The sluggard’ is so lazy they can’t even be bother to feed themselves (Proverbs 26:15), they’re stuck in bed (Proverbs 26:14), deeply unsatisfied (Proverbs 13:4), killed by refusing to work (Proverbs 21:25), in poverty because they sleep so much (Proverbs 20:13), and harmful to others through their idleness (Proverbs 18:9). And here’s what ‘the diligent’ is like: gains precious wealth (Proverbs 12:27), will have their soul richly supplied (Proverbs 13:4), will have a clear and easy path (Proverbs 15:19).
I think the stark contrast shows us the seriousness of procrastination and laziness. I wonder if I had this view of laziness more often, how would my behaviour change? The Bible treats procrastination seriously, why don’t I?
At the extreme, ‘the sluggard’ is hungry, poor or dead because he didn’t work. At less extreme levels, are we missing how procrastination can affect our lives? If we have a propensity to procrastinate, what happens when it creeps into areas like reading God’s word, praying, or meeting Christians to speak the truth in love? Procrastination could be spiritually damaging, leaving us unsatisfied, keeping us from God and even affecting Christians around us.
Like all sin, laziness and procrastination is incredibly self-centred, yet the gospel is incredibly Jesus centred. We fight sin, by turning from ourselves to Jesus. By turning to the cross, where Jesus rescued us from all our sin. By turning to Jesus who by his Spirit living in us empowers us to put to death sin in all areas of our lives. Jesus and his work for us - rescuing us from all our sin - and in us - transforming us to be like him - is our only hope as we fight our own laziness, procrastination, and ‘sluggard’ tendencies.
So let me leave you with the wisdom of Proverbs: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths’. Proverbs 3:5-6.