Duane Vander Klok
Do the palms of your hands begin to sweat or does your stomach start to feel queasy whenever April 15 is mentioned? If so, it could be that you are among the millions of Americans who will be hurrying to the Post Office, some as late as 11:59 p.m., to have their income tax returns postmarked before the deadline. For some, filing late is part of a strategic financial plan; for many others, the last minute trip is just another symptom of procrastination.
Whether you occasionally put things off or have a chronic problem with it, the result is the same—wasted time and missed opportunities—because procrastination is a robber. Think about it. How many times have you heard someone say that they will start a diet…tomorrow, or that they will open an IRA…soon, or even that they will get right with God…someday? Somehow, they never get started or, if they do, they do not see it through to completion. Procrastinators defer taking action and never see their ambitions, dreams, and goals realized. God never intended life to be like that.
Suppose I come home one night and find my wife, Jean, reclining in the chair. It has been a day filled with home schooling our children, cleaning, cooking, gardening, and ministry. As I enter the room, she says to me, “I’m whipped. I’m worn out and I refuse to move.” Then the telephone rings and it is her best friend. I take the phone to her and she wearily agrees to talk. Her friend tells her that there is a big sale at her favorite department store. For four hours only, dresses are 75% off. She hangs up the phone and pole vaults from her chair all the way into the bedroom. She gets dressed and is out the door in ten minutes with a smile on her face and pep in her step! What happened to change Jean’s plans for the night? Vision! She could see herself in all those new dresses at 75% off! The vision motivated her and gave her energy.
Vision is always a motivator. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint.” When you do not have a vision, you just don’t care what happens. This is true in every area of life from relationships to employment to finances. For example, if you don’t have a vision of where you want your money to go, you can walk through the mall and spend your whole paycheck on things you really don’t need. Why? Because you see things that look nice but you have no vision to restrain you from making unwise choices. With a vision, you can say “no” to the things that distract you from your purpose. Only then can you begin to make the most of your time and resources.
Put Things in Order
God created time to be a blessing, not a curse. Lack of time should never be a hindrance in your life. In Ecclesiastes 3:1, Solomon wrote, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” God knows everything that needs to be done and how much time everything takes. Everybody has 24 hours in each day. Nobody has any more time and nobody has any less. It doesn’t matter who you look up to, they are able to accomplish what they do in 24 hours each day. If it seems you are so busy that you do not have enough time to get everything done, perhaps you are trying to do some things you shouldn’t be doing.
Let me ask you some important questions. Are you busy doing things that make a difference or are you just doing a lot of different things? What are your priorities? What is most important to you?
Here is how I order my top priorities:
(1) Relationship with God
(2) Relationship with my wife
(3) Relationship with my children
(4) My work
I make it a practice to never let my lower priority interests get in the way of my higher priority ones. Spending time with my wife and children is more important than my ministry. Yes, my ministry is important, but if I am not first a good husband and father, everything else I do is out of order. When you know your priorities and keep them straight, your life will flow in the right direction and you can begin to prioritize your daily tasks.
Experts in the business world say that when there is a problem to solve, there is usually one thing you can do that will bring you 80-90% of the results. Too many times, we make ourselves busy doing four or five things that, if combined, only take us 10-20% of the way to the solution. You need to prayerfully identify the one main thing that should be your top priority for each task at hand and then follow through with it.
Studies involving the habits of college students show that the small percentage of those who write down their goals accomplish more of them than all the rest of their classmates combined. Did you know that this is a scriptural principle? God spoke to the prophet Habbakuk and told him to “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” (Habbakuk 2:2). When you write down your vision and the specific steps needed to obtain it, you are “making it plain on tablets”. If you read what you have written often, you will be continually motivated to carry out the plan, no matter how long it takes. Remember this, people who write down their goals almost always fulfill them.
Do It Now
Nearly everyone who faces an enormous task is overwhelmed by the prospect of starting it. Even with a good plan, our flesh often says, “It’s too big of a project. It will take too much work. I’ll be more ready later.” To top it off, the devil will try to hold back your progress by telling you there is plenty of time later. The truth is, there is no “convenient” time to tackle any project that seems boring, complex, or unpleasant. Ecclesiastes 11:4 in the Living Bible says, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.” How true.
Consider Adino, the Eznite, who was one of David’s three mightiest men. II Samuel 23:8 states that he killed 800 men at one time. Can you imagine having 800 men coming at you, all at once, trying to kill you? Adino faced a BIG PROBLEM! Of course, God was with him, but Adino still had to do his part. The only way he could have done it was to back himself into a corner and start taking them on, one at a time. He must have kept going and going and going…until the very last one was dead. That is exactly how a job (whether a big problem or a small task) is always best completed—with God in it and you doing your part one step at a time.
Maybe you don’t think you have a major problem with procrastination, but how wisely do you use your time? Do you do what is convenient and leave the rest for later? Do you socialize with friends when you have important projects to get done? Do you watch TV instead of doing work around the house? Do you talk about superficial things with your spouse instead of discussing important issues? Do you find yourself sometimes doing things just to “kill time”? If so, you are doing much more than using your time unwisely. You are killing the gifts and vision that God has for your life.
Satan always says you can do it tomorrow, but God always says today. You can change, but you have to do it today.