I used to brag about being a procrastinator.
I could wait till the last-minute and get anything done. While I would drive people close to me crazy, I just accepted that’s “how I was” and barely made it through everything I did in life.
That’s until my second semester of seminary came along.
Prior to seminary, college had pushed me academically. I was forced to learn how to study in college, but I lacked the discipline concerning how to plan.
When I entered seminary, I also began my first full-time job as a pastor. I took 9 hours (3 courses) at the extension center for Southern Seminary my first semester. I would go to class from 9-9 on Mondays and then wait around until Sunday night to do the reading for the upcoming week.
Since I made satisfactory grades the first semester, I decided to increase the load to 15 hours utilizing some online courses. I was getting married in June, and so I thought it would be wise for me to knock out as many courses as I could before I got married.
Perfect plan. I mean, what could go wrong?
“It’s All Greek to Me”
Out of the 15 hours, I decided to take the Greek course that I needed online. I had taken 5 semesters of Greek in college, so I took an examination which allowed me to skip the first semester, but accreditation required that I take a final course in order for all of my Greek requirements to be satisfied. It was my first online course but since it was a subject I knew, I wasn’t concerned about it.
It seemed like a great plan until I realized that I hadn’t cracked open the syllabus by mid-term.
When I opened up the document, I realized I was in serious trouble. I frantically called my professor and begged for mercy. Once he gathered all the details from me that he needed, he was more gracious than what he should have been.
He told me, “Oh my! 15 hours, working full-time, and about to get married?! What in the world are you thinking? I am looking at your placement score, I can tell you know Greek, but you have gotten too far behind. I am going to let you withdraw with a passing grade, but promise me this:
“Do not do this again. Learn from this.”
And I did. That scare lit a fire under me that helped me greatly and started me down an important track in my life.
The Much-Needed Change
I finished up that semester with 12 hours. Amanda and I got married. I took Greek the following semester, and I knew something had to change. If I was going to succeed in anything in life, I had to fight against procrastination.
In order to fight procrastination, I had to deal with the procrastinator.
I really did some self-evaluation. I wanted to blame something else, but I really started to see that I was the problem. I hoped to find an excuse, but it truly boiled down to the fact that I was lazy.
I was disguising laziness by claiming that I wasn’t the organized type.
I always claimed that there were organized people in life and disorganized people in life. I just happen to be one of the disorganized ones, and once people embraced that, they would conveniently lower their expectations of me.
I began to take notice of other people though and realized that those who were getting stuff done weren’t necessarily smarter than me but they seemed to be more disciplined than me.
People who get stuff done aren’t necessarily better than others but they are often more disciplined than others.
My First Step
As a newlywed, young pastor, and budding seminary student, I knew one thing for sure: I could not succeed at any of those roles unless I changed.
If I wanted my life to count for something worthwhile, I was going to have to figure out how to get more done and stop hiding behind a facade of a personality malfunction.
The first thing I did to combat this was to make a plan. Revolutionary, right? It was for me. I was such a fly by the seat of my pants guy, I had never considered such an option.
Here was my plan:
- I pulled out the syllabus as soon as I got it.
- I wrote down every single step I had to do to complete that course.
- I pushed every due date up by 2 calendar days to give me wiggle room.
- I placed every deadline on my online calendar with two email reminders (the 1st reminder was 1 week out and the 2nd reminder was 2 days out).
The plan worked for me that semester. I somewhat seemed organized. I completed my first online course and finished by Greek requirements.
I was able to work better when I simply acknowledged my weaknesses and found ways to strengthen them.
This is very uncomfortable to type, but I am writing this because of how often people comment on how much I do. I personally don’t think I am doing more than what anyone else does. I struggle with distractions and laziness just as much as the next guy. I shudder at how many opportunities I have lost because I was not prepared.
Apparently, some people have the perception that I accomplish a notable amount of things. I appreciate that, but it concerns me also. My fear is having anyone look at my life and think that I am naturally organized because that could not be further from the truth.
I am not naturally organized, but I have learned to be disciplined.
It is a huge difference. Therefore, I am writing a series of posts on productivity not because it comes natural, but because if I can accomplish anything in this life, I know you can too. Scripture has rebuked my slothfulness (Prov. 6:6; 13:4; 10:4; 18:9; 21:25; 14:23), and I have sought out wisdom from numerous places because I want to make the most of this life.
I want to live in a manner worthy of my calling (Eph. 4:1) by making the most of every opportunity (Eph. 5:16). I desire a zeal for good works (Titus 2:14), and I pray I can do all the work I am allowed to do in a fervent manner since it is for the Lord (Col. 3:23).
I hope you want the same thing.
My plan is to share these posts over the coming days and pray they can serve you in order to accomplish more than what you are currently accomplishing. Not so that people will admire you, but so that people will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:12).
For today, let’s start here: don’t try to disguise laziness with a facade of a personality defect. You can accomplish much in this life, but first, you have to submit your entire life under the lordship of Christ and began to ask the question: how can I do more to redeem the time (Eph. 5:16)?
Stay tuned and we will unpack this some more.