Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Just Do It – Overcoming Procrastination

Just Do It! – Overcoming Procrastination
These are sermon notes, not written in a polished or finished manuscript form.
Sermon video: https://youtu.be/lQ1iFK5J5a8

Reading - Prov 3:27-28; 6:6-11
Have waited six full years to preach this sermon! Actually, ten years ago, thought I should do something to address this problem in my own life, so I took a huge step forward. I bought a book on it! I have faithfully and consistently kept it unread in a place where I could find it if I ever became motivated. But it was a thick book, and it would take time to read and work through it! I wanted a quick fix, like, “Get a day planner,” or, “Become a speed reader,” or, “Just do it!”
So I kept putting it off, until … I committed myself to preach this sermon today! Once I told others about it, there was no turning back! Ha! Preacher’s secret: if I really need to work on something, I plan a sermon on it! That way I go public and make myself accountable!
In Nashville, favorite used bookstore, bought book on weight loss. Ironically it’s a very fat book. I hope to feel thinner each time I see it sitting on my shelf. I wanted a fast solution, like “eat less and exercise more.” Better yet, the TV ads seem to say, “Eat more and weigh less! Extra chocolate shakes included!”
However, I did not procrastinate at all when we had a flat tire at 6:30 am 12/27! Why? I had a clear grasp of the task at hand. I knew exactly what we had to do. I realized that nothing else was going to happen until we took care of it. We were stopped cold. Literally. About 15 degrees! We collaborated, formed a plan, and took care of it. Lost about two hours.
What if we had just put off doing anything? Maybe we could blame the nail that punctured the tire and the vehicle and driver that dropped the nail. We could dread the hassle and cost of replacing the tire. We could just hang out in the convenience store, drink coffee, and eat Twinkies. Ha!
We didn’t, of course. Why not? There was a sense of urgency, immediacy.
Three approaches to life:
Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?
Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?
Why put off until tomorrow what you can put off indefinitely?
Perhaps most of us have –
A closet or garage we are going to clean out and organize.
A growing stack of magazines we would like to go through.
A box of photos or videos we intend to digitize and share.
A list of long-time friends we want to call to catch up.
A few books we picked up – or others lent us or gave us.
A box of income-tax-related papers we should sort before April 15.
A new diet and exercise plan, which is still just a plan.
A few unfulfilled New year’s resolutions.
A need to develop our Bible knowledge, prayer life, and outreach.
Good intentions to start family devotionals some time.
Friends who are not Christians as the Bible defines Christians.
Some vital matters we ought to discuss with our sons and daughters.
A lack of progress. A failure to follow through.
Result? A gnawing, growing guilt. Yet we continue in that rut!
It becomes a vicious cycle, a way of life, a habit.
Quote: I put the “PRO” in procrastinate.
So, what to do?
Redeem the Time
Eph 5:14-17
Eph 5:14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.” 15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
“Redeem” = cash it in (like a coupon) for all it is worth. Get its full value before it expires. Don’t waste it, lose it, or spend it foolishly.
Do Not Delay!
Prov 3:27-28
Prov 3:27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it,” When you have it with you.
Wake Up and Work!
Prov 6:6-11
Prov 6:6 Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, 7 Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, 8 Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest. 9 How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? 10 “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest”— 11 Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man.
The Bible recognizes and addresses human procrastination. If you don’t get up, get out, and get busy, you will not eat!
Examples of pcn in Scripture, and the reasons for it:
Rebekah and Her Family
Gen 24:50-60
Abraham’s servant: executing a mission! He must find a wife for Isaac. No time to lose. “Let’s go!”
Rebekah: drawing water at just the right time, in answer to prayer. God’s providence. “I’m ready!”
Rebekah’s mother and brother: stalling. “Not yet!”
Abraham’s servant: insisting. Gets results.
Joseph and His Family
Gen 42-43, esp. 43:10
His brothers cannot return to Egypt for bread without bringing their brother Benjamin.
Their father Jacob, having lost Joseph, refuses to risk Benjamin. “It would kill me to lose him.”
So they wait … and wait … and wait …
Until the famine becomes critically severe!
Finally Jacob yields.
Gen 43:10 Judah says, “If we had not delayed …”
Pharaoh and the Frogs
Ex 8:1-15, esp. 8:10
Ex 8:9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “The honor is yours to tell me: when shall I entreat for you and your servants and your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, that they may be left only in the Nile?” 10 Then he said, “Tomorrow.” So he said, “May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.
Second plague in Egypt, after water to blood.
Frogs swarm: on the people, and in their beds, kneading bowls, and ovens. Covered the land.
Pharaoh has the honor of setting the time that Yahweh will remove them.
His choice? “Tomorrow!”
Would you keep the frogs until tomorrow?
David, Absalom, and Joab
2 Sam 14:21-33
Absalom flees after killing his half-brother, Amnon.
Three years pass.
David softens. Absalom returns to Jerusalem.
Two more years pass.
Absalom asks Joab, “Send me to the king!”
Joab refuses to respond.
Absalom burns Joab’s fields.
Then Joab responds! It has become urgent because it is personal!
Absalom rebels, attempting to seize the throne.
Governor Felix and Paul
Acts 24:22-27
Ac 24:24 But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.” 26 At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him. 27 But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, and wishing to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul imprisoned.
Jewish leaders and lawyer accuse Paul.
Paul declares his innocence.
Felix puts them off.
“Some days later” he sends for Paul.
He hears of righteousness, self-control and the coming judgment. He is alarmed!
“Go away. When it’s convenient, I’ll summon you.”
Two years pass. Felix leaves Paul in prison.
Hymn: “Almost Persuaded.” “Some more convenient day, on Thee I’ll call.”
King Agrippa and Paul
Acts 26:27-29
Ac 26:27 “King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you do.” 28 Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.” 29 And Paul said, “I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.”
Excuse: “I need more time. You’re rushing me!”
Jesus: “Daylight Savings Time”
John 9:1-6
John 9:1 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” 6 When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.
Read hymn: Work for the Night is Coming
I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again. – ETIENNE DE GRELLET, Quaker missionary
To overcome procrastination,
Admit It.
Admit the truth! You procrastinate.
Procrastination is a response – or non-response – you have chosen.
Count the cost of procrastination.
Fact: you choose procrastination because you think it benefits you.
You’d rather play than work. You’d rather put it off than do it.
You feel guilty but squelch and justify such feelings.
Only when procrastination costs more than it pays will you address it.
You blame, make excuses, and rationalize.
Knowledge is not enough.
We postpone taking action because …
We dread the consequences that may result.
If we confront someone or correct a situation.
We think the benefit of acting now is not worth the cost.
We have put this off for an extended period already. Inertia.
We do not plan in advance to attack it.
We do not make ourselves accountable to others.
We think, expect, or assume that someone else will do it. “Not my job.”
We would rather play than work. Laziness. Proverbs.
To overcome procrastination,
Assess It.
Assess your status. How likely are you to change?
Source (edited): The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, by Michelle Tullier, Ph.D.
Are you convicted that God wants and expects you to address your procrastination?
Have you allowed your procrastination to keep you from growing in your faith, worship, Bible study, prayer, and service?
Do you realize that your procrastination can affect your health and damage your family?
Are you completely fed up with your procrastination?
Do you fear that severe negative consequences are just around the corner if you keep putting things off?
Are you convicted of the fact that overcoming procrastination will bring you greater joy, peace, and fulfillment in life?
Can you be patient with the change process? Can you be comfortable with the fact that it may take a long time to break your bad habits?
Are you prepared to give up some leisure and fun time for a while on order to take care of some more critical matters?
Do you have the courage to admit to other key people in your life that procrastination is a big problem for you?
Are you willing to put yourself on more of a daily and weekly schedule and routine?
Are you willing to ask others for help, to delegate some responsibilities, and to let some non-essential things go?
Are you aware that much of the clutter in your life – papers and possessions – will have to be removed so you can move forward? Are you okay with that?
Can you learn to say “no” to commitments and obligations that distract you?
Note your procrastination pattern.
Procrastination is a learned habit, repeated and built over time. Hard to break.
What do you try to avoid?
How? What did you do with that hour that you should have spent wisely?
What excuses have you used?
“I work best under pressure.”
“I am afraid of the task. I may fail.”
“I am a perfectionist.”
“I am lazy and would rather play.”
“Somehow it will all work out.”
“I will start tomorrow.”
“Another student has not started yet either.”
“I am a victim! I cannot do it yet because …”
“It costs less to put it off than to do it.”
“I can pass the class without this assignment.”
“This is someone else’s fault.”
Uncover the reason(s) you procrastinate.
Fear of the unknown.
Unfamiliar territory.
Estimation of work and time involved.
Avoidance of something or someone negative.
Frustration with past efforts.
Absence of a game plan.
Uncertainty as to where to begin.
No guarantee of success.
Faulty measurement of success.
Applause, acclaim, and appreciation.
Raise in pay or promotion in position.
Instead – satisfaction of having made a sincere effort.
Fear of failure.
Fear of success.
Greater pressure and higher expectations will result.
Path of least persistence.
Lack of urgency.
Assumption: plenty of time.
Lack of support.
Sense of having to do it all alone. Overwhelming.
Realize why your past efforts failed.
You didn’t prepare yourself.
You didn’t define or address your defeating habits (perfectionism, all-or-nothing thinking).
You lacked passion and commitment (not heart-driven, not inwardly motivated).
You tried to do too much, too soon (quick-fix, pile it on).
You extended your plan over too long of a period (expand, contract).
You didn’t get instant gratification.
You didn’t prioritize.
You weren’t angry enough. (Exasperated with yourself)
You weren’t scared enough (of failing to follow through).
You lacked support (tried to go it alone).
You lacked information (instructions, guidance, skills, resources).
Your timing was off (in crisis or major life change or stress).
To overcome procrastination,
Attack It.
You cannot manage time. However, you can manage your life, behavior.
Prioritize according to value.
Focus on whatever will have the most beneficial impact on your walk with God, your role in the family and the church, and your own life.
Drop what you can.
Holding a light object. It’s not the weight; it’s how long you hold it.
Log your time.
How much do you procrastinate? How much work do you get done each day?
Where does your time go?
Whatever you did with your time, you chose to be worth your time.
Plan each day in advance. Set priorities.
Change your thinking. Tell yourself, “Do it now!” “I can do it!”
Do the hardest job first. Eat the ugliest live frog first.
Focus on starting rather than finishing. Focus on the next step rather than the entire project.
Break that large, daunting project into small chunks.
The 15-Minute Organizer.
Make yourself accountable.
Start small. Set a timer for 15 or 30 minutes.
You can sit and stare at the wall, you can feel guilty for all the things to ought to be doing, you can repeat to yourself the illogical reasons for continuing in your old habits … or you can get up and do something!
You and Your Salvation
Acts 22:16
“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.”
Acts 8:26-40
“Here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
2 Cor 6:1-2; Heb 3:7-19
2 Cor 6:1 And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain— 2 for He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, And on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”—
You and Your Ministry
Matt 25:14-30
The master, who had given his servants talents, returned and settled accounts with them. He rewarded and condemned them accordingly.
What on earth are you doing … for heaven’s sake?
Hymn: Who Do You Wait, Dear Brother?

Hymn: Tomorrow May Be Too Late.ppt – Palmer E. Wheeler

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