Nearly everybody says procrastination is bad. You shouldn’t put off what you could do today, because you may not have tomorrow to do it. True enough, but there’s an art to procrastination. You need to learn when to act and when to hesitate. Some things are better left alone for a while.
I found this true in the pastorate. Certain people would tell me a friend was in the hospital and about to die and ask me to visit. Off I’d race to be of whatever good God wanted to do with me in the dying person’s life. When I got to the hospital, the patient was sitting up in bed, eating a meal, and was very talkative. I soon learned to put off a quick visit, and check the matter with the hospital. Procrastination doesn’t always produce a bad result.
Don’t get we wrong. We shouldn’t procrastinate in everything, nor all the time. If two people are feuding, and you have a legitimate reason to bring them together to work out the problem, perhaps you should do so, quickly, before the feud spills over to other relationships. Then again, it might be wise to wait, allow time for the combatants to settle their differences on their own. Which should you do? Every situation is different. This time you may decide you should help; the next time you may decide not to assist. How do you decide?
Shouldn’t you decide as a Christian always decides the big issues of life? By prayer, by looking into the scriptures for light, and by conversing with a trusted but uninvolved third believer.
Prayer is direct conversation with God. It primes the relationship with wisdom, as water primes a pump to flow. Through prayer, you begin to discern the Lord’s mind. He will help you decide whether or not to put the difficult task off.
Scripture often guides by bringing up a subject that’s bothering us. Now I don’t mean using a concordance to look up procrastination or delay or some related word, then reading what’s said. That may help, but probably won’t. I mean the disciplined, regular reading of God’s word becomes, for a Christian, another conversation with God. I’m amazed how often my reading through a whole book of the Bible raises an issue that I’m dealing with in my life. If procrastination happens to come up while you’re reading the gospel of Mark, and you’re questioning whether to delay something, you’d better listen up. God’s giving you his advice.
Talking to another Christian can often solidify what your prayers and Bible reading have said. She may offer the same advice as scripture gave you. This is confirmation. This is wisdom. Her voice is a second testimony that you’re on the right or wrong track. Listen and move ahead, trusting God with the outcome. But what if her advice is contrary to what you read in the Bible? Give her a fair hearing. Think about what she says, compare scripture again, pray, then decide. But don’t procrastinate too long. You may miss an opportunity to bring good to a bad situation.
Procrastination calls for wisdom from above and within you.