The Gospel is the Cure for Dream-Killing Procrastination

Procrastination takes many forms.

Sometimes it’s surfing the internet to avoid an unpleasant task. Sometimes it’s taking care of a bunch of unimportant things to delay a difficult one.

But there’s a particularly insidious type of procrastination – one that keeps us treading water in the status quo instead of being ambitious with our lives. Rather than tackling projects for the glory of God, we delay action and merely daydream about the way things could be.

God-given dreams planted in our hearts aren’t nourished. Ministries aren’t established. Businesses don’t get started.

And amazingly, remembering the gospel is the cure.

The Mind of a Procrastinator

In Still Procrastinating?, psychologist Joseph Ferrari discusses several studies that reveal the inner thoughts of these chronic procrastinators.

A defining trait among these procrastinators is a strong fear of failure and a strong desire to protect their self-image. As long as a task remains in the realm of theory – as long as it’s not fleshed out into reality – then procrastinators don’t have to confront the possibility of their own shortcomings. They can daydream about success without ever risking failure.

Procrastinators often have what’s known as a diffuse identity. They actively avoid learning more about themselves. They’re so afraid of their own potential weaknesses that they’re willing to leave their strengths undiscovered.

For some, chronic delay is a way of sabotaging their own performance. They’ll put obstacles in their own path (such as a lack of time due to procrastination) so that failure is blamed on their circumstances instead of on them.

It really comes down to one thing: Procrastinators don’t want to have their self-esteems damaged by feelings of inadequacy.

Enter the Gospel

The wonder of the gospel is really the cure for these issues with procrastination.

The gospel says you’re already approved. You’re already accepted.

It doesn’t matter if you try something and fail – or try something and succeed – God will look at you with the exact same amount of approval either way.

We are freed from finding our significance in what we do and how we perform. Our identity is now found in who we are as a follower of Christ. Our standing before God is now based off of Christ’s work and not our own.

Freedom to Engage

This gives us the freedom to stop judging ourselves. This gives us the freedom to stop trying to earn our way into God’s favor.

But it also gives us the freedom to work and to strive for the glory of God without any fear of failure. We can launch ourselves into the largest dreams and tackle the biggest obstacles – because we are loved and accepted regardless of the outcome.

We can risk our standings in the eyes of man, because our standing with God is secure. We are released, as William Carey said, to expect great things from God and to attempt great things for God.

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  • Laurie Reyes

    I love how you connect the gospel to procrastination. And I’m glad I found your blog. And now I’m going to shut the computer and go tackle the laundry.

    • Loren Pinilis

      Glad you enjoy the blog. And glad you’re tackling the laundry – whatever you do, do it for the glory of God!

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  • Stephen Haggerty

    Man that’s good stuff. This desire for approval is something God’s been working on with me and molding me in His image (and approval). Thanks for tying this in with such a caustic activity as procrastinating.

    • Loren Pinilis

      Glad it was helpful, Stephen. It’s something I struggle with deeply too.

  • sandra delemare

    This is so timely for me. Thanks, Loren.

    • Loren Pinilis

      Glad you found it helpful!

  • mickholt

    This is totally me. I actually could have written this post – I often use words to describe my own actions – or in actions –  such as sabotage. But I have never viewed this as a spiritual issue.  Our church recently went through a series that our Pastor called “Identity” and it was the same basic gist – Our “Identity” come from Christ. Who we are – inside is based on HIM.

     Thanks for sending me this link.

    • Loren Pinilis

      The more I look at it, the more I see how deep a spiritual issue it really is. Thanks, Mick!

  • Joyce

    It makes me cry. Thank God for this post! All Glory to God! 🙂

    • Loren Pinilis

      So glad it was helpful and edifying!

  • Christina W

    This so perfectly describes what I’ve realized about myself. Thank you for this! There is liberty in confirmation…I am wanting to change my life, starting with my lack of discipline, and just stumbled on your website. I’m looking forward to finding more tools and encouragement.

    • Loren Pinilis

      Christina, that’s great! Believe me – I think everyone struggles with this in one form or another. I’m excited though because now it’s not just procrastination that will change in your life but your relationship with God.

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