Think about reasons that people procrastinate. We all have tasks that we want to delay doing. Moses didn’t procrastinate, but he was reluctant to go on God’s mission. His reluctance helps me see why I sometimes procrastinate in doing important things.
Scripture passages are from the NIV Bible. See the copyright information at the end of the post.
I. Moses acted on his own with disastrous results.
See Exodus 2:11-15. Several million Hebrew people were slaves. Moses tried to help just two of them and utterly failed. He tried to take on the unjust system in Egypt by his own power and wisdom.
II. God called Moses for a mission, but Moses tried to get out of it.
God told Moses in Exodus 3:7 – 10, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers . . . 10So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” Talk about a mammoth job!
A. Exodus 3:11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Moses’ first objection was that he was not important. He was no longer an Egyptian prince. Understandably, he felt inadequate. Past failure can make any of us hesitant to take on a project.
God’s answer in Exodus 3:12 is “I will be with you.” That’s true for us, too, isn’t it? God is with His children whether our “missions” are big or small. Think about a student’s school assignments—a much smaller task, but often challenging. Christian students are gaining skills and general knowledge in school that will help them serve God and others more effectively. Therefore, those assignments, such as the dreaded research paper, can be like a little “mission.”
B. Exodus 3:13 – 14 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” Wow! An amazing answer to Moses’ question about God’s name (and to an unspoken question Moses might have had about God’s nature). God’s name declares that He is eternal, unchanging, and the foundation of everything else. He is worthy of complete trust.
C. Exodus 4:1 Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” God answered this objection by showing Moses three signs that he could give the elders. God’s lesson for Moses was to depend on God’s power and not fear how others would react—an awfully good lesson, don’t you think?
D. Exodus 4:10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” I can almost picture Moses shaking in his sandals. Sometimes we may think we don’t have the particular skills to do the job that God has put on our hearts or directly in our path. But let’s look at God’s answer.
Exodus 4:11,12 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? . . . Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” If we have a difficult task, God may develop skills in us that we never thought we could have.
E. Exodus 4:13 But Moses said, “Lord, please send someone else.” Moses now had enough promises from God. So what’s going on here? Moses, at this point in his life, did not have enough faith in God to obey Him. God was angry with Moses, but told him that his brother would accompany him. It’s easy to judge Moses for his lack of faith, but I know I’ve been guilty of the same kind of failure. And the rest of Exodus shows how Moses became a giant of faith.
III. Truths from Exodus and other scriptures can be applied to the much smaller tasks that we have to do at home, at work, or in school.
A. Paul said in Phil.4:13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Paul’s words can be a tremendous reminder that the Creator of the universe is willing to reach into our lives and situation.
B. Christians are given many wonderful promises, such as James 1:5. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. Instead of procrastinating, the step toward success is to ask for wisdom and then trust God enough to plunge in and begin the task. It’s vital to pray not only at the beginning but also as we do the work—something I easily forget to do.
C. Proverbs 26:13 A sluggard says, “There’s a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!”Sometimes it’s tempting to procrastinate because of a frightening, but unreal “lion” that roars at us when we look at a task. As we trust God and tackle the job, the lion may be unmasked as a simple house cat.
IV. Here are some other suggestions to avoid procrastination.
- Write a list of the tasks and prioritize them according to both their importance and due date. Sometimes I make the mistake of starting with a task just because it’s small and looks easy. Small tasks can eat up a lot more time than expected. The number one priority is the place to start.
- If the task is really big, it helps to break it into smaller, scheduled steps. Then follow the schedule as much as possible, but allow changes. We own the to-do list; it doesn’t own us.
- An effective method (actually a trick) I often use, especially for cleaning the house, is to start working, but promise myself that I can stop the unpleasant job after a certain amount of time. An object at rest is hard to move. An object in motion is hard to stop. I often find that I don’t want to stop in the middle after all.
- We need to guard against interruptions from friends or phone calls or the enticement of the computer.
- Finally, it’s good to picture the satisfaction we’ll feel after doing the hard job. It really is satisfying, isn’t it!
What are other suggestions to help us not procrastinate? I’d love to hear from you.
Scripture quotations are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. NIV® Copyright © 1973,1978,1984,2011 by Bilica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.