A few Januarys ago, I posted a blog about how quickly many of us lose momentum toward the “New Year” commitments we like to make on January 1. For instance, in the first half of January my workout gym is always packed with new folks trying out their just purchased fitness club memberships. By mid-February, I no longer have any difficulty finding a parking spot or an open machine. I think the blog bears repeating as we start out on our new commitments in 2017.
To go where God is calling in our lives and vocations, we must deal with the momentum busters of rationalization (“I make myself the exception”) and procrastination (“I don’t know where to start”). Rationalization and procrastination can prevent us from moving toward the purpose for which God has created us.
Rationalization is when we tell ourselves that we can live at the top of the proverbial mountain without the effort of the climb. “I am the exception,” we misguidedly tell ourselves. Yet some prominent professional athletes have discovered over the past few decades that they can’t cheat the effort of the climb with the assistance of performance-enhancing drugs without the consequence of diminished public respect and credibility, as well as long-term health effects.
We also live in a culture that has a passion for the immediate. We want the CliffsNotes version of God: happiness, success and fulfilling relationships. We want “easy” and “now,” and we try to make God work that way too. This cult of the instant has created an aversion to sweat and an inclination for shortcuts. Avoiding perspiration at all costs, we lower the bar. We change God’s standard of measure. Yet keeping our gym membership active is going to take persistent commitment.
Procrastination is another huge momentum buster. In fact, failure comes in direct proportion to procrastination. Have you ever gone into a test unprepared? If so, you may have experienced the feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt that procrastination, or the failure to take adequate measures of preparation, feeds. You’ve probably had the dream about a critical exam for which you failed to study, a play for which you hadn’t memorized the lines or an important presentation where you were embarrassed to discover yourself standing alone in your underwear. Procrastination comes back to haunt you in your dreams. It attaches itself to your psyche and continues to raise its ugly head through feelings of anxiety and dreams marked by panic, failure and defeat.
Procrastination, failing to do today what shouldn’t be put off until tomorrow, sows seeds of lifetime failure.
God calls us to a lifestyle of holiness. “Be holy,” the Bible commands at least two dozen times. The term holiness may sound impractical or other-worldly to the modern ear, but it actually means “wholeness.” When your life is set apart for God, when it is devoted to God’s excellent purposes, it is made whole or complete. Perhaps holiness should be spelled as “wholiness.” God is a God of whole-life excellence in every dimension, yet in our brokenness we rationalize and procrastinate about areas in our lives that are less than excellent.
Most of us have got to deal with our big “but” — the big procrastination statements we use on ourselves. “But I don’t have time to get up early for prayer and meditation.” “My schedule is too packed to make it to worship this weekend.” “But I don’t have time to exercise because I’m too busy.”
To break through these momentum busters in my own life, about two decades ago I developed the acronym DRIVE, which represents my self-leadership disciplines for maintaining life momentum.
- D – Daily Devotion to God. This is the spiritual element. If I don’t practice this discipline, I find that it takes me only 24 hours to lose my fear of God.
- R – Readiness for Lifelong Learning. What are you reading and learning? When we stop learning we risk lessening our effectiveness and relevance.
- I – Invest in Key Relationships. Who is most strategic in your life, and do you take time for them? Practicing this discipline helps me keep first things – and first people – first.
- V – Visioning for the Future. This is the missional element. Forming future pictures ensures that we don’t remain stuck in the past.
- E – Eating & Exercising for Life. Our bodies are the temple of God. I’ve come to realize that eating and exercise are as spiritual as they are physical.
As we approach February, let’s not allow rationalization and procrastination to derail our commitment to whole-life health.
Part of this blog was excerpted from my book Momentum for Life: Biblical Practices for Sustaining Physical Health, Personal Integrity, and Strategic Focus. Also recommended for "New Year" reading - Dare to Dream: Creating a God-sized Mission Statement for Your Life.
Mike Slaughter is the almost four-decade chief dreamer and lead pastor of Ginghamsburg Church and the spiritual entrepreneur of ministry marketplace innovations. Mike’s call to "afflict the comfortable" challenges Christians to wrestle with God and their God-destinies. His newest books are Down to Earth, The Passionate Church and The Christian Wallet.