July 2017 Meditations

July 28

Proverbs 20:4
The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing (Proverbs
20:4).

Sometimes we take character faults and call them characteristics. Procrastination is one of those
character faults. I have seen (and at times reference to myself) the smile and wink as someone
says, sometimes jokingly or even lovingly, that such and such a person is a procrastinator. “Well
that’s just [insert name]!”

Today’s proverb is about procrastination. Years ago Charles Hummel wrote a good book about
this called The Tyranny of the Urgent. His main point, as I remember it (it’s been awhile), is
that we have a tendency to let the urgent draw us away from the important. In other words, we
do the urgent thing that needs to be done now (whether that thing be important or unimportant), but fail to do the really important thing, in part because that really important thing can be put off until later. (Sometimes we don’t even do the urgent thing, even as we put off the important.) Examples of this are legion: home maintenance, regular exercise, important decisions—all these things can lead to significant problems simply due to being put off. Childrearing is one of the best examples of this. Raising children is tremendously important, but any parent will readily acknowledge that it is easy to put the important things off until tomorrow. Especially when those important things require effort, like plowing a field. For the field can be plowed tomorrow. But then spring comes. And the child grows up.

The word that the proverb puts upon the procrastinator is sluggard. In other words, the proverb
won’t allow us to look at procrastination as a characteristic, but forces us to acknowledge it as a
character fault. Which becomes painfully apparent when he seeks at harvest and has nothing.
One of the reasons I love (and sometimes don’t love) the proverbs is that they submerge the
notion that the practical and the spiritual are categorically different things. In other words, very
practical things such as work habits tell something of who I am before God. And, in so doing,
give me very practical avenues of repentance.