I have the best Bible in the world. At least, I think so. It's called the Life Application Study Bible and it has proven to be invaluable to me. I feel like I always read the Bible but didn't always understand or have information that helped me get to the next "level." This Bible does just that. Usually, when I read a verse in church or during Bible study, I can go to the bottom of the page and the Bible gives me either a background on the story, a background on the verse and why it was written, or some additional information to consider - it just depends on the book and context.
Today, we read from Joshua. I happened to read a description on Joshua 18:3-6. The story was about Joshua and how he assigned land to seven individual tribes, but they procrastinated on taking possession of it. Taking possession would have been a boring, large, difficult task and the Israelites put it off. Joshua asked them, "How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given to you?"
In the description, I read this: Joshua asked why some of the tribes were putting off the job of possessing the land. Often, we delay doing jobs that seem large, difficult, boring or disagreeable. But to continue putting them off shows lack of discipline, poor stewardship of time, and in some cases, disobedience to God. Jobs we don't enjoy require concentration, teamwork, twice as much time, lots of encouragement, and accountability. Remember this when you are tempted to procrastinate.
Well, I was convicted.
I would have never have thought to put together this verse about Joshua and procrastination. So, I appreciated that my Bible did just that.
Procrastination has ALWAYS been a struggle of mine. For many reasons, I put things off. And over the years, I have justified my procrastination with many excuses: "The rush of the deadline makes me work more efficiently." "That's just how I am, Jenna the late comer! Jenna, her room is always messy! Ha ha, isn't it funny?" "TV, or do the dishes. Hmmm..." But really, what it is, is me having a problem with being lazy and knowing I have an issue and defiantly refusing to fix it. Being married to someone who is NOT a procrastinator and having kids have changed this attribute quite a bit about my personality, but I still have my struggles with it. In my younger days, though, I put off everything - paying bills, cleaning my room, doing laundry. As a service manager of a restaurant, I would even put off making the schedule for the employees until the very last minute. It was kind of a joke, and in my defense I was an immature 23 year old, but still. It was pretty bad.
Over the years, and through my maturity as a Christian, I have come to realize a few things about my "old" ways and the way I should live now. First and foremost, the old way I lived, where people were inconvenienced by my procrastination (like my roommates who had to live in the same house I would keep messy, or companies who didn't get payment from me or the employees who had to wait for their schedules), it showed a complete lack of respect for them, their time, and their feelings. Secondly, it shows a complete lack of respect for the material things that God has given you to take care of. A house, for instance. That is a big blessing, one that I know some people take for granted, especially if it's a house they don't particularly love. But it's still a huge blessing God has provided and one that we should treat as such. Third, it shows a lack of respect for our relationship with God because we are not attempting to provide the care and discipline these responsibilities require of us.
I realize not all things are a priority in God's eyes. For example, I have six shelves sitting outside in my backyard, waiting to be redone. I started the project yesterday and don't know when I will get back to it. Well, I am sure God doesn't care if I rush out and paint them right now. I don't mean things like that, we all have things that should be done or that we've meaning to get to. But I do mean things like, procrastinating and getting the kids to school late regularly because you put off that snooze alarm just one more time. Or if you regularly put off housework that effects living conditions and the other people in your house. Or if you procrastinate projects at work because they are tedious and time consuming in favor of other, more fun ways to spend your time, whatever the case may be. I know that I feel that guilt when I have put something off for days upon end. I think that if you are walking closely with God, that guilt can be a huge conviction that maybe you have some things to work on. Especially if the thing you are procrastinating is your quiet time (guilty of that myself!)
Something else I thought about as I thought about this....I think so often, we Christians categorize sin in what we deem as most severe to least severe. I see things very differently - I think all sin is hated by God, no matter what it might be. It's a hard concept for us to understand as human beings because there are just some things that don't seem as serious as others. The point I am trying to make here is that if procrastination has been a point of contention in your life and has caused consequences, especially if you are convicted about it but haven't really don't much to change it, that is still a sin because it is separating you from the will of God for your life. If you find yourself saying, "I am such a procrastinator, ha ha! It's always been a struggle of mine..." you almost are saying, "That's just how God made me, oh well!" God wants you to grow and become spiritually mature - this is a great example of how one might do that - by developing discipline through doing the jobs that you might not like doing, but need doing, especially if God has entrusted those jobs to you.
I challenge you this week to give this some thought. My life has become a million times easier since I started changing my mindset. I don't really consider myself a full blown procrastinator anymore, but I still struggle with it. But this verse really made me want to try harder!