Why Waiting Isn’t Always Procrastinating

Guidelines for Living Daily Devotional

March 23, 2020

If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.  John 7: 17

Procrastination is defined as putting off or delaying doing something until a later time.  Always a bad idea, right?  Well, not necessarily!  There are times when not dealing with a situation is a good choice.  But is that really procrastination, or is it simply the decision not to decide?

Queen Victoria, it is said, always avoided making a decision as long as possible, thinking that the longer she could wait in dealing with a situation, the less likely it would be that she would have to make a decision.  Napoleon Bonaparte answered his mail only once a month because he found that with the passing of time, the problem had often resolved itself.  Obviously, he lived before the days of texting and email.

Some people get a burst of brilliance and inspiration when the pressure is on at the last minute.  The famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright had been commissioned to design a new house and although he told everyone he was fast at work on it, didn’t have a thing drawn the morning of his presentation meeting.  Under pressure, he quickly drew up plans for a house that came to be known as Fallingwater, one of the most famous designs in the world.

There are times when waiting, doing nothing at all, is not procrastination but the decision to await God's timing and will.  While procrastination may be the thief of time, it is also true that hurrying is the cause of 9/10 of our mistakes.

More people get into trouble making wrong decisions because they didn't have all the facts, or saying things without knowing all the circumstances, than those who say or do the wrong thing because they take too long addressing an issue or problem.

Take, for example, rushing into a buying something because the sale ends tonight!  Or what about the person who rushes into a marriage without really knowing the other who is pressuring you to go to the altar.  “Marry in haste and repent in leisure,” my dad used to say.

Have you learned, perhaps through painful experience, that if you are uncertain about a given situation, the best course of action is to wait, pray and seek advice or counsel from someone older or wiser, making a decision only when you’ve come to a conclusion as to what the right thing to do is?  Waiting in such a situation isn’t procrastination.  Awaiting the knowledge of what you should do is wisdom; avoiding doing what you know should be done is procrastination.

Business writer Steven Sample explains, “We don’t, or can’t, take enough time to think about the increasingly complex timing challenges we face. Technology surrounds us, speeding us up. We overreact to its crush every day, both at work and at home.

Life might be a race against time but it is enriched when we rise above our instincts and stop the clock to process and understand what we are doing and why. A wise decision requires reflection, and reflection requires a pause.”

God’s Word says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5). The decision-making process is both active and passive: “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who Seeks him,” Lamentations 3:5 encourages us.  That period of prayer, of waiting, of getting counsel, searching, exploring, and fact‑finding is not procrastination.  It becomes procrastination after a person has come to an understanding of the truth and you know what you need to do, whether or not you want to do it!  Remember, James 4:17 warns, “It is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”  Where are you friend?  Are you pausing to search or are you just procrastinating?  It is one or the other, but never both.  Think about it.

Resource reading:  James 4:13-17

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