For the Procrastinator In Your Life

Standard

Would you like to take a quiz to see if you’re a procrastinator or not (if you thought, Sure!, you’re not. If you thought, Can we do it later? You are one.)?  

Do you get resentful when reminded of tasks left undone?

Do you sometimes delay a task so long you become embarrassed to actually do it?

Do you distract yourself spending time on non-essentials while letting important things sit on the shelf?

Do you have a difficult time determining what to do first?

Do you agree to do a task and then regret agreeing to it?

Have you ever put off signing your kids up for something and then they missed out?

Do you ever think, “If I wait long enough, the task will not need to be done by me”?

Do you find yourself making excuses for work left unfinished?

If your answers were yes to some of those questions, I don’t have to tell you about the stress level that comes with putting things off. It rises your blood pressure and erodes your level of joy. 

There is a level of enjoyment in getting things done right and timely, so putting things off takes joy away. 

Putting things off also gives you a chronic sense of guilt. It eats away at one’s self esteem and it causes friction in relationships. 

Co-lead singer of the Beatles John Lennon, in one of his more lucid statements, said, Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans.

Here are five steps I’ve taken to suffocate the procrastination out of my life. 

(1) Stop making excuses.

Making excuses easily leads to lying. We exaggerate or make up a story on why we didn’t get it done, why we were late to the meeting, why we couldn’t respond to the email, and so on. 

Ben Franklin once said, People who are good at making excuses aren’t good at anything else. 

People who keep putting things off that need to be done are great at rationalizing. They rationalize (they ration, lies) This probably flies around the work place more than anywhere else. 

Someone comes to work late again and they say, Traffic was bad. Alarm didn’t go off. Sitter was late. Starbucks was slow. I thought it was Saturday. Pick your excuse, whether that’s the real reason or not.

Teachers hear it. Parents hear it. Bosses hear it. Customers hear it. 

Why wasn’t the work done on time? Well, I’ve got an excuse for that. 

If you want to stop procrastinating and start living, you’ve got to stop making excuses. 

Whenever you feel defensive about something, or you feel any type of rationalization rising up in you to protect your pride, stop, call it what it is and say, You know what, here’s the truth. And I’m sorry. And I’m thankful you’re holding me to a higher standard. 

It’s okay to say, I was unorganized. I chose to do something else instead. I was lazy. I forgot. I chose Netflix instead. It’s okay to admit that when it’s the case because as Christians we serve God, not people.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. (Colossians 3:23)

(2) Face your fears.

Have you ever asked yourself the question, What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?

My wife Whitney put this truth on our bathroom mirror months ago in her beautiful hand-writing,

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

From the day we are born God instills in us with two automatic fear responses: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. As we grow up we learn healthy fears of fires and strangers and sharks and Oakland Raiders fans.

But, God has not given us a spirit of fear. We are not meant to be frozen by fear. 

Procrastination reveals two kinds of fear in us.

The fear of failing.

The fear of not measuring up or feeling rejected or not doing a good enough job. It keeps a person stuck. 

And strangely, there’s,

The fear of succeeding.

If I do this well, they might ask me to do it again, and then I’ll have to maintain this level of excellence, and they’ll ask me to do more and more.

It’s easier to stay in that mode of, Someday I hope to…. Someday I will..…

It’s more difficult to bravely take action. 

(3) Establish a plan.

Get a game plan. Map out initial steps to take. Start with the end goal in mind and work backwards. Invite trusted people in to help. 

I’ve got steps all over my life. I’ve got daily tasks that I make at night of things I need to do the next day and I check them off as they’re completed. I’ve got lists for yearly goals and I’ve got steps under those to get to those goals. 

YOU CAN get on a budget and put that plan together to keep it. 

YOU CAN finally get all of those family pictures printed and organized. 

YOU CAN get the junk out of your home. Go through all the clothes and the toys and the things unused and give it all away. Get that clutter out. Simplify so you can more easily focus on the goals you have. 

YOU CAN start leaving home 30 minutes earlier to get to work to get to school to get to the airport or get to church – so you’re there on time and if early, you can pray over your work, your school, your travels, your church.

YOU CAN sit down and think about what needs to be delegated in your life to others who are gifted in areas you’re not. 

 A wise person thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t. (Proverbs 13:16)

Put a plan together on paper. Just one single step toward your goal will start to bring relief and joy, because procrastination is a huge joy-sucker.

(4) Get disciplined.

Our culture says that discipline is a joy-sucker but it’s actually what brings more joy into your life because it fights procrastination. It fights fear. It fights laziness.

When you set a plan, there will be set backs, hurdles, disappointments, failure. There will be temptation to do something else, anything else, than the goals you have. 

You’ve got to stay disciplined (focused).

Discipline is the guard rails on that adventurous road you want to drive on. Discipline is that fence in the large backyard you want your kids to run freely in. You need guardrails to protect you, kids need fences to protect them from wandering.

If I don’t have discipline and accountability, I will veer toward the unhealthy habits in my personality and I will drive everyone around me crazy. I won’t be the best version of myself. 

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Stop making excuses, face your fears, establish a plan – invite someone in on it – get disciplined – invite someone to hold you to your responsibilities and goals.

(5) Start changing today.

In the Exodus saga, God’s people are enslaved by the Egyptians for 400 years. He hears the prayers of the Israelites and rises up Moses to go to Pharaoh and say, Let God’s people go, and Pharaoh refuses (because the 1-2 million Israelites are his free labor work force).

That’s when God gives Moses some powerful bargaining chips known as the 10 Plagues to let Pharaoh know he wasn’t the one in charge, but that God was/is. The Nile River goes from water to blood, killing all the fish. The livestock outside die. Locusts fill the sky. Flies all over. Boils on the people. Each plague Pharaoh refused to give up control.

A memorable plague was frogs all over the ground. Everywhere you looked, there was an amphibian. Here a frog, there a frog, everywhere a frog, frog. They came up out of the Nile River. Kermits everywhere is what gets Pharaoh’s attention.

Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and begged, “Plead with the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people. I will let your people go, so they can offer sacrifices to the Lord.” (Exodus 8:8)

“You set the time!” Moses replied. “Tell me when you want me to pray for you, your officials, and your people. Then you and your houses will be rid of the frogs. They will remain only in the Nile River.”  (Exodus 8:9)

This is how Pharaoh responds: 

“Do it tomorrow,” Pharaoh said. (Exodus 8:10)

Do it tomorrow?

Wow. 

Pharaoh can’t even back his chariot out of the garage without running over hundreds of frogs. Every Egyptian household has a wife on top of a dresser screaming at their husbands to do something. 

It’s very stressful on the entire nation of Egypt and Pharaoh says that something should be done – tomorrow?

Start changing today. Not someday. 

How many of my thoughts and how much time has been wasted in someday?

Someday I’ll ask her out.
Someday I’ll read that book.
Someday I’ll take my health seriously.
Someday I’ll get help on my addictive habit.
Someday I’ll start that non-profit.
Someday I’ll have my neighbors over for dinner.
Someday I’ll balance my schedule so I can invest more into my family.
Someday I’ll get on a budget and stick to it for a better future.
Someday I’ll get serious about God.
Someday I’ll invite that person to church with me.
Someday I’ll forgive that person.
Someday I’ll confess my struggles to a loved one.

There is something all of us here have that we have been putting off that God has been inviting us to step up and take care of. 

Don’t be like Pharaoh. Don’t settle for one more night with the frogs. 

Thanks for reading. You are loved. 

Z

5 Things Your Church Leader Needs Prayer For

Standard

Do you pray for the leaders of your church? Because they need it. Badly.

Here are five things to pray for when wanting the leaders in your church to be who God has called them to be (Church leader classifies as: Elder, Deacon, Priest, Pastor, Preacher, Minister, Church Staff Member, Bible Teacher, Ministry leader, Bible College Professor):

1. That they would not be Arrogant.

Arrogance is like bad breath, you’re the only one that doesn’t know you have it.

If your church leader doesn’t have a close, loving relationship in leadership with someone who will hold them accountable, most likely they don’t realize how prideful they are.

Arrogant people think, We’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys. We have the answers, they need us. We are critical because they’re the one with the problem. We point out that this person messed up because it enhances the view of others that we never mess up.

They also say, The Bible is infallible – and so is my interpretation of it.

The Bible is perfect. My interpretation of what it says is not perfect. The Bible is infallible, but your favorite Christian pastor/author/professor isn’t. Inerrancy doesn’t extend to Bible teachers.

When a church leader begins to lead in ministry, the sheep will instinctively put the shepherd on a pedestal. I’ve failed as a church leader if I predominantly hear, Zach said this, Zach said that, I love it when Zach said….

I want it to be the Bible that is on the tongues of the people I get to serve. I’ve got nothing wise or good or helpful to say to them without the Bible being clearly laid out to others.

Church leaders are not supposed to convince people of their interpretation. They are supposed to invite as many as possible to give their sin and life to Jesus, and then invite them to examine the Scriptures together.

The ugliest, lowest moments of church history, were when the people trusted the church leaders to teach them the ways of God without having any desire or ability to check the Bible to make sure what was being taught wasn’t tradition or unbiblical. Churches split because leaders become enthralled with their bad interpretations of Scripture.

Is your church leader arrogant? Do they have close, truthful relationships? Do they take God seriously and themselves lightly or do they take themselves way too seriously and God lightly?

2. That they would not be Unkind.

Being a Christian leader is a balance between giving grace to the people and giving truth to the people. Grace comforts. Truth convicts. Both are needed. Jesus was the perfect balance of grace and truth. Your church leader is not Jesus.

Church leaders can have an obsession to be right. They’re like a harsh judge. It’s better to be preoccupied with being loving. Like a compassionate father.

When I digest the Gospel account I see people flocking to Jesus in a way they didn’t run to the Pharisees. They ate and traveled with Jesus in a way they didn’t want to spend their free time with the religious Scribes. It wasn’t primarily because of what Jesus knew, it was because He was loving. He actually cared about people.

Do you believe your church leader cares about you? Is your church leader unkind? Do they judge others or do they offer forgiveness? When someone stumbles do they give too much truth, or do they extend mercy?

3. That they would not be Hypocritical.

A good way for a church leader to not be duplicitous, is to read Matthew chapter 23 and put their first name in the place where Jesus is raking the Pharisees over the coals for their hypocrisy.

Not only did these religious leaders of the first century have rules outside of the Bible that they forced everyone to adhere to, but they weren’t following them either. It’s what religious people today do.

Do we need any more hypocrisy in the church? It doesn’t help the advancement of the Gospel when church leaders believe one thing and do another. God’s Spirit doesn’t work through hypocritical, unchanging leaders. God’s Spirit works effectively through humble, repentant, forgiven, changed leaders.

A pastor friend of mine and one of his elders were disciplining a church staff member who was caught investing his time unwisely into pornography. They set up counseling. They prayed with this minister. They set up accountability for him. They wanted restoration for him.

It came out later that the elder who was disciplining the church staff member, he himself was having an affair with a married woman in his church. That’s as religious as it gets when it comes to hypocrisy.

Your church leaders has sin. They struggle with temptation. They are blind to it. They hide it. They need prayer that God would humble them to repentance, because if not, He will humiliate them in their hypocrisy.

Is your church leader repenting and trying to grow in the likeness of Christ? Or do they act like they have it all together? Do they ever talk about their shortcomings?

4. That they would have Joy.

Is leading in the church fun to them or do they see it as a chore? Is it something they get to do or something they have to do?

I don’t know who put the word fun in fundamentalist, but that was foolish. They got the mental part right. How many religious, brow-beating leaders do you know where you think, Man, those are some happy people!

Zero.

Following Jesus is a blast. Serving in the church is a privilege. Leading others – there’s nothing like it.

If your church leader’s definition of a joyous life is a furrowed brow, complaining lips and a gun loaded with accusations, then they need a hug. These are not happy people. They always share what they’re against. They’re always upset at someone and it’s not the mirror. There’s no joy.

They must’ve been baptized in vinegar.

If I’m the kind of dad that’s like this with my kids, they’re going to want to leave the house as soon as possible and go sin like crazy because at least that looks fun at first. I want to be a joyful dad and a joyful leader in the church but it begins by me living joyfully under the feet of Jesus. Daily. I get it, life is hard. Bad things happen. But the most effective leaders in the church are those who have been broken and ended up being thankful for it because they knew God was doing something to change them for the better and bring them closer to Him. Joy.

How many elders meetings have I been in where the excitement in the room was about what each elder was accomplishing at their job and not about the work that Jesus was accomplishing in them or in the church?

Look at your church leader’s family. Is there joy in their marriage? Do their kids have joy?

Look at how they react when God comes through for them or for others? Is there visible wonder?

Watch how they worship Jesus. Are they visibly grateful for the cross and the empty tomb or do they look robotic and uninterested?

5. That they would not be Power-Hungry.

The church is at her healthiest when we are submitting to one another as Jesus submitted to the Father. Church leaders have no authority except for the authority Jesus has graciously allowed them to borrow responsibly.

To have an unhealthy craving to be in charge, noticed, acknowledged, on top, is to not know the liberating freedom the Gospel brings. And to be power-hungry means it will never be enough.

How many church leaders want to be in leadership to show everyone how great they are instead of showing people how great Jesus is?

They might be meeting a lot. They might appear to be serving (to be noticed). They might be making tough decisions. But what is their motivation? Do they lead in the church humbly? Do they show a desperation for the grace of God? If not, they crave influence more than Christ and it will lead them down an unloving legacy.

Jesus isn’t Arrogant.
He’s humble and He expects us to be full of humility, to cloth our lives with it.

Jesus isn’t Unkind.
He’s compassionate and He expects us to be merciful toward others, even enemies.

Jesus isn’t a Hypocrite.
He’s authentic and He expects us to be genuine.

Jesus isn’t without Joy.
He’s full of joy and not matter your hardship, thank Him for today and have joy.

Jesus isn’t Power Hungry,
He’s lost-hungry. He came to save the lost. He’s power itself and we cannot change our lives or the lives of others with His power from His Spirit.

If you’re being sinful, Jesus forgives. If you’re being religious, knock it off. That should cover everyone reading this blog. If you’re breathing you’re either being filthy or are judging the filthy. I’m not sure how many online articles you’ve read and then took some quiet time to repent afterwards, but it might be a good idea to do that today. And while you are doing that, please pray for your church leaders.

Thanks for reading. You are loved.

Z