Monday, April 18, 2011

The Busy Christian... Chapter 10

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness
Chapter 10: I’m busy because I prefer being under pressure – the liberating refuge of God

The lie: I work better under pressure

Do you tend to operate under this assumption? “I need the deadline to get motivated, I do my best work at the last minute.” Yes, sometimes, there’s a crisis and we just have to attend to it, but most of the time, we work to the last minute because we procrastinate.
Sometimes our procrastination is obvious like when we play solitaire on the computer. And sometimes we spend our time doing good things. We answer letters. Visit friends. It looks like we’re being diligent. We note all the important things we’re getting done. But if we would only be honest with ourselves, they’re all ways of putting off the task before us. (p127)
Procrastination tends to have three stages:
  1. It’s not due yet – I have plenty of time
  2. It’s crunch time – I have a right to neglect all my other responsibilities
  3. I’ve finished the job – I have a right to reward myself
Do you recognise this pattern in yourself?

One of the things that adds to procrastination is that we tend to confuse urgency with importance. We deal with things according to urgency rather than importance. An ability to judge between the two will mean that important tasks are prioritised over unimportant urgent ones. I do like his point here:
Spend your time contributing to God’s kingdom the things God has equipped you to do. At the same time, be servant-hearted. Just because something is unimportant to you doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter to other people. (p129)
The common excuse of “I work better under pressure” ignores the reality that we have no problem doing the tasks we enjoy.
More importantly, it ignores the harmful impacts of our procrastination. Children go without parents, wives without husbands. Corners are cut. Co-workers are stressed. Others pick up our responsibilities. Our bodies are strained. And tired minds make us more susceptible to anger, resentment, jealousy and frustration. (p129)

There are two underlying causes of procrastination:
  1. My pleasure – we procrastinate because we prioritise our pleasure. We avoid doing what we don’t want to do.
  2. My pride – we procrastinate because our pride is threatened. Faced with a difficult task, we avoid it and to easier things to bolster our self-confidence. So procrastination can be a form of escapism.
Do you tend towards procrastination? What do you do when you procrastinate?
Is it your pride or your pleasure that tends to cause procrastination?

Do you tend to confuse urgent with important?

Is this an issue in your ministry? Does sermon preparation in your home always happen on Saturday nights? Do you always miss days off because tasks have not been completed earlier in the week? Can you address this issue with your husband?

The truth: God is my refuge

What should we do:
  1. Repent “Acknowledge procrastination for what it is: self-deception, selfishness, escapism, pride...Turn from self back to God. Accept your responsibilities as he has given them to you” (p131)
  2. Place your faith in God as your refuge. “We take refuge in all the things that make up our procrastination when we should take refuge in God.” (p131)

Another lie: Busyness is a refuge
We can be busy in one area of our lives as a way of hiding from problems in another area... We fill our lives with commitment and activities to avoid facing issues. (p132)
More work can seem attractive when life at home is hard. We can have a very-full diary to avoid having that difficult conversation. We need to make sure we are not using our inherent busyness to avoid things in our lives.

Are you using the excuse of busyness to avoid dealing with other issues?

An unshaken heart

The Psalm for this chapter is Psalm 62 – a meditation on an unshaken heart.
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge. (v5-8)

Next week – Chapter 11: I’m busy because I need the money

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