Be A Doer, Not A Stewer

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as
unwise but as wise, making the most of
every opportunity, because the days are
evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but
understand what the Lord’s will is.

—Ephesians 5:15-17

Several years ago, a friend of mine wrote an article under the above title. He began by telling of a colleague whose philosophy is: When in doubt, delegate; when confused, meditate; when in trouble, hallucinate; when all else fails, procrastinate! I’m sure he picked this up from some source unknown to us today.

Though few ever articulate it as such, this is a common approach to life, especially the final item. The problem of procrastination is pervasive. It sabotages church ministries, ruins careers, harms relationships and, as most can attest, it causes untold emotional misery.

To procrastinate, according to Webster, is to “repeatedly put off something that is supposed to be done.” Who doesn’t occasionally do this? Some, however, have perfected the practice. For example, Les Waas, a Philadelphia executive, is the first and only president of the Procrastinators Club of America. He says it is difficult to select a Procrastinator of the Year. The nominating committee never gets around to submitting candidates. In fact, they all share a common belief that anything really worth doing is worth putting off.

Well, the idea of a procrastinators’ club is humorous. But, procrastination is not. As leaven permeates a whole lump of dough, so, also, one procrastinator stymies many. One need not look too deeply into the life of most churches to notice its impact. Well-conceived programs die in their tracks for lack of follow through; preachers put off sermon preparation until the last minute and deliver sub-par sermons (ouch!); evangelistic Bible studies and “follow-up” work will become a priority some day; absentees are missed when attendance is taken but are not contacted; we know we should visit those in the hospital; many are willing to volunteer to teach a Bible class, but just not right now; and… Well, the list could continue. Praise God that many good things get done in spite of our human weakness! Right?

Likewise, many homes feel the effect of procrastination. There are leaky faucets, cluttered garages, unpaid bills, library fines, overdue movies to return and bedrooms that need to be cleaned. More devastating, though, are the “I love you’s” that go unspoken and the “I’m sorry’s” that never get said. All the while, the totally-too-busy parent placates himself saying, “One day, when… Then, I’ll spend more time with the kids. One day, when… I’ll become involved with the school. One day, when… I’ll concern myself with my child’s social and spiritual development.” Unfortunately, “One day, when…” seldom ever comes!

The solution is simple, but not easy. Breaking bad habits is always tough. Still, something must be done to break the cycle of procrastination. First, decide to change. Realizing the impact of procrastination on your own life and the lives of those close to you can be a heavy burden. Rather than letting this weigh you down, let it be what motivates you to change.

Second, be a doer, not a stewer. We sometimes fret so much over what’s not done that we don’t have any creative energy left to begin even the simplest of tasks. Things will come up, causing us to modify our plans. This doesn’t mean that all is lost. Handle the urgent matters promptly. Filter out uninvited, undesirable intrusions like they were junk emails.

There is nothing wrong with doing what needs to be done now! In fact, this is an important lesson for procrastinators. Yes, there are a lot of unpleasant, inconvenient things in life that must be done. It’s not unusual to feel uncomfortable about doing some things. While we do not always get to choose when we do them, we do get to choose our attitude. Thus, we should be doers, not stewers.

Third, it’s better if you take baby steps. Don’t try to do too much too soon. You don’t have to attack the monsters in your cluttered closet during your first day in battle. Do you have a long list of things you’re gonna’ do someday? Rather than tackling the mega-tasks, first tackle a mini-task or two—things you can do in a single day—maybe even an hour or two. Develop winning ways and build on this success. Remember: Yard-by-yard; it’s very hard. Inch-by-inch; it’s a cinch. Become a doer, not a stewer!

© Bill Williams, August 24, 2005
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Blogroll, Christian Living, Life, Resolutions, Writing Samples. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Be A Doer, Not A Stewer

  1. Mark says:

    OK, I love the philosophical saying!

    Glad you stopped by, Mark. Hope all is well with you and yours! -bill

  2. reJoyce says:

    I decided to change, but keep putting it off. 😉

    Good thoughts. Thanks!

    Thanks for your kind words, reJoyce! Don’t know how you could really be a procrastinator and a bibliophilist, though. How would ever decide what to read next?

  3. Kathy says:

    Reminds me of my dear departed husband’s enjoinder:

    Don’t do today what you can put off ’till tomorrow! LOL

    I can enlist small other things to do as stumbling blocks to assist me in procrastination. It’s a never fail ploy, one that also supplies acceptable (sic) justification for not taking on the task needing attention. The mind is a wonderous thing to explore. What twists and turns it will follow to avoid addressing and simply doing unpleasant tasks.

    Some of us are professional procrastinators. It has taken us a long time to develop these skills, too! Hope all is well with you down south in Iceland! -bill

  4. Greg England says:

    I’ll come back and read your blog later.

    Sorry I didn’t get around to replying sooner. I’ve been sitting here trying to think of something catchy to say in reply, but couldn’t. Maybe something will come to me while I take my afternoon nap.

  5. Maggie says:

    Stopping for “lack of grace” and “need to rest” versus discipline…an on-going struggle for me!

    Ya’ll are a hoot, now!

    Glad you stopped by Maggie! Hope all is well with you. -bill

  6. Ariah Fine says:

    Great post! I think that verses is a great reference against procrastination and time wasting in general. It makes me consider how much time I’m spending writing and reading when I could be out serving others. Always good to check myself.

    Thanks, Ariah! Glad you stopped by. -bill

  7. laymond says:

    Did you ever notice that all resolutions start with the words “I am going to” instead of “I have started”

    Excellent point, Laymond! What does the Chinese proverb say about the journey of a thousand miles?

  8. Bobby Cohoon says:

    Great Post brother!

    Thanks, Bobby!

  9. Dee Andrews says:

    Does being addicted to reading blogs count as procrastination from doing “necessary” work? I sure hope not. At least not until I get through my favorites list today.

    I don’t think so, Dee. We’re all glad that you stop by to share your insight and spread good cheer! -bill

  10. Neva Cooper says:

    I enjoyed your blog. We have similar backgrounds, ie. Christian college, SIBI, Christian counseling and emergency trauma support. I now live in Spearman, TX—Suburb of Amarillo. 🙂
    Keep up the good work in your ministry. I will stop by this blog frequently.
    In Him

    So glad you stopped by, Neva. As you note, we have many things in common. Although it has been years, I’ve actually been in Spearman! God bless you, dear sister, -bill

  11. Mark Wilson says:

    Hi Bill

    Every day I visit your blog and I think “what a wonderful pastoral gifting you have”. Thank you for sharing your insights into how to life a better and more Godly life. The body of Christ is built up by all of us in our own ways – and I really value your input.

    Bless you,

    Thank you, Mark. I appreciate your encouragement very much. I’m also getting close to wrapping up a couple of “first-of-the-year” projects that have kept me extremely busy. This will give me the time I need to dig into three books that a friend from down under sent me! Lord willing, I’ll have something to share with you (and the rest of our blog church) about these in the next few weeks. Blessings to you, my friend, -bill

  12. Maria says:

    I like the title of this!!
    In Jesus
    Maria in the UK

    Thanks for stopping by, Maria!

  13. Great post.

    How many times do we put off talking to a friend about Jesus, studying our Bible, or praying? Procrastination is dangerous!

    Thanks, Paula! Glad you stopped by!!


  14. Lisa says:

    Thanks for the compliment on my blog, Bill. My blog is really too silly to be on your blogroll, but I appreciate you offering anyway. 🙂 I will probably refer my readers over to you on occasion, so you’ll be hearing from me again!!

    I especially was hit in the head by this post because of my dangerous habit of procrastinating … in every area of my life, including things I want to do for the church. I know I’m not alone, but I do sincerely believe I am worse about it than most. I don’t usually make new years’ resolutions, but if I were going to this year, top of the list would be working on my procrastination. I plan to use your post as some inspiration to actually work on it for a change, and not just plan to work on it.

    God bless you for your desire to encourage others.

    Thanks for your kind words and encouragement, Lisa. May God bless you and yours, -bill

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