Procrastination is a 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.
Here’s how it happens to me. I graduated from college years ago, yet I still have this occasional recurring nightmare. I’m in class, it’s exam day, and all quarter long I’ve forgotten about the course. I didn’t show up even once. “I’m not going to graduate,” I tell myself in great anxiety. Then I wake up—and I’m actually sweating. In real life, I know this is absurd. I graduated from college. I also have a master’s degree and a doctorate! Yet look what deep roots developed from the seeds of my old habits of procrastination. They are so firmly rooted in my psyche that three decades later they can cause physical symptoms.
Procrastination is destructive, not just in terms of what we put off today but in how it attaches itself to the subconscious mind and begins to reproduce itself. “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” says Proverbs 23:7 (KJV). Our inner, subconscious thoughts determine who and what we become.
The instructor in Proverbs asks, “How long, lazy person, will you lie down? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to lie down—and poverty will come on you like a prowler, destitution like a warrior.” (6:9-11 CEB).
Procrastination always makes you poor. It leads to poverty not just in your wallet, as the writer of Proverbs warns, but in your spirit as well.
During one season of my life I was experiencing success in ministry, yet my marriage was poverty-stricken because I was trying to run it on autopilot. There were things I knew I needed to do in my marriage, but I was procrastinating— putting them off until another day. Most people do well in one area of their lives, though they experience poverty in others.
Compromise in any one area of my life will ultimately become an idolatrous cancer that will consume the rest. Procrastination, failing to do today what shouldn’t be put off until tomorrow, sows seeds of lifetime failure.
Mike Slaughter is Lead Pastor of Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio. In his thirty years as pastor, Ginghamsburg has grown from just 90 people in worship to a thriving mission center where thousands of people serve Jesus by serving the least of these.
This post is adapted from Mike's book Momentum for Life.