We seldom consider all of its potential consequences, and yet, it’s a bad habit that frequently results in loss and regret. In certain areas of life it’s considered socially unacceptable behavior. The Bible admonishes us to avoid it, because it has the ability to ruin relationships, destroy career opportunities, and rob us of success. In fact, it’s the silent killer of dreams. Were the Surgeon General to issue a statement regarding this habit, it would read “Warning: _________ may be hazardous to your goals.”
What are we hinting at? Something we intended to discuss before, but which, for various reasons (excuses?), we put on a back burner. Shall we explore this bad habit now … or perhaps wait for a better time? Later? Or now? Or should we just think about it for awhile? Maybe even sleep on it.
We won’t make you wait. The horrible habit we’re alluding to, the thief of dreams, is … and we can hardly bring ourselves to type it … the ugly P-word … PRocRAsTiNAtIOn!!
In his novel David Copperfield, Charles Dickens wrote, “Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” But the habit of procrastinating can rob us of far more than our time. True, when we put things off, we’re gambling with life’s greatest commodity, time — the “currency of dreams” — but the worst aspect of procrastination is often the unforeseen consequences of our actions … er, inactions.
When we have lots to accomplish or deadlines to meet, putting things off till tomorrow can result in last minute mad dashes to finish projects, needless stress, poor quality in our work, and sometimes the complete failure to get the job done. In Strategies for Success in Career Development (2007), Karen Lamb writes, “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
People procrastinate for a variety of reasons: to indulge in laziness; to avoid a difficult task; or simply because they’re counting on having more time. Regarding the last reason, time has an uncanny way of running out on us, and “life” often interferes with our best laid plans. You’d think we’d have learned our lesson in high school. Remember those late Sunday nights spent cramming for an exam? Nevertheless, people have a natural tendency to postpone — even the inevitable. Some even joke, “Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow.”
Tomorrow, by its very definition, never comes. To quote song lyrics from the Musical Annie, it’s “always a day away.” At some point, though, we do reach the end of the line. We look back on the goals we failed to achieve, the unfulfilled dreams, the still broken relationships we intended to mend. We say things like: “I was planning to visit…”; or “I was going to make more time for….”; or “I intended to take care of that….” But planning and intending to do something only count as excuses. We’ve all heard the expression, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Like any bad habit, putting things off only leads to further procrastination. And, like any bad habit, procrastination can destroy relationships. That’s why God admonishes us NOT to put off resolving disagreements or making restitution. Ephesians 4:26 states, “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry….” (NLT) In other words, don’t put off addressing an issue or repairing a relationship until tomorrow, because tomorrow might never come.
Abraham Lincoln wrote, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” Do you have a goal to achieve, a task to perform, a relationship to mend, or a problem to address? Start now. Do you want to pursue a dream? Start today. Don’t let the bad habit of procrastination steal your time and opportunities. Your future — and all your tomorrows — begin today. So don’t delay.
“Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT)