by Beth Sterne
Do you often wish homeschool and life would “go better?” Do you feel as if you’re caught in a maze and can’t find your way out? Do you wish for less to do, fewer obstacles, and more time, energy, peace, or joy?
Procrastination may be the sneaky habit that is trapping you, causing homeschool problems of many kinds. It greatly interferes with what we most desire.
Procrastination: Homeschool Problems
My desire for myself is for God to bear fruit through my life‒‒to conform my character to Christ’s and use me to influence others for Him. My desire as a homeschooling mom was to see that fruit in our children. However, procrastination prevented godly fruit.
I was a hardworking homeschool mom who accomplished a lot.
Sometimes I was even told, “Slow down, relax.” But actually, I struggled with procrastination and its effects.
Proverbs 15:19 says, “The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway” (NKJV).
I was stuck in prickly thorns which I myself had planted and watered. Because I was trapped, my family was trapped.
God is steadily moving me out of procrastination, away from unnecessary pressure, and into peace. Life is much better
Results of Procrastination
First, I had to see the damaging effects of my habit. This list reveals some of how my procrastination–one of our biggest homeschool problems–prevented godly fruit in our home:
- Habitual tardiness to events
- Driving too fast (no margin)
- Tension, constant hurry
- Unfinished projects (photos, reading, grading)
- Clutter (piles on the table, plastic bags to search through)
- Overload due to unfinished business
- Missed opportunities (incomplete forms or lesson preparation)
- Worsening problems because of delay getting help (from a counselor or friend)
- Neglected courtesies (thank you notes, returned books)
- Unnecessary expenses (rush mail, overdue fines)
- Unnecessary crisis situations (delayed medical appointments)
- Failure to give attention to serious matters that require thought (relationships, finances)
- Lack of outreach in spite of God’s prompting (neglecting neighbors)
- Waking at night tortured by thoughts of the consequences of my neglect
Causes of Procrastination
Oxford Dictionaries Online defines procrastinate – “to delay or postpone action, put off doing something.” Scripture uses additional words: Sloth – “reluctance to work or make an effort,” Sluggard – “lazy person,” Lazy – “unwilling to work or use energy,” Slack – “showing laziness or negligence,” Indolent – “lazy” (Oxford definitions). Indolent has a root meaning “to not suffer or give pain.” So, when I procrastinate, I am being slack, not inclined to work, seeking to avoid pain.
As a hard worker, I was confused by these words. But I understood it when I asked, “What pain do I not want to suffer?”
Proverbs 6:6-7 showed me: “Go to the ant, thou sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat IN THE SUMMER, and gathereth her food IN THE HARVEST.”
I was slothful and lazy because I put off work that needed to be done WHEN it needed to be done. I worked hard, but I was doing the WRONG work! I tried to avoid the pain of work I did not want to do and chose other work that I PREFERRED.
There’s a season for work and a season for harvest. If I do not work in the appropriate season, I will not have the benefit of harvest in its season. If I don’t plan ahead, my student won’t have the needed course.
Proverbs 15:19 shows it’s not righteous to be lazy. Slothfulness opposes love, faithfulness, kindness, and self-control. It steals joy and peace (Galatians 5:22-23).
These are two Scriptures that reveal God’s perspective on this.
Then why do I procrastinate? Self. I began to see that my preferences to relieve self in the moment were costing me what I wanted more‒godly fruit (e-mail over devotions, for example).
Perfectionism, fear, confusion, time, fatigue, and feeling overwhelmed are some reasons we procrastinate. Very often the motivation is a manifestation of self: we choose something we prefer over what is actually needed.
“According to Scripture, diligence is work in season‒doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done.”
Rejoice! God makes us new creations in Christ and sets the captives free. His Holy Spirit enables us to change by His grace.
Diligence is God’s replacement for slothfulness. Diligence is not defined as “constant work,” however. Constant work isn’t healthy, Scriptural, or God-honoring. According to Scripture, diligence is WORK IN SEASON‒doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. God designed us for work, play, and rest. He produces fruit in all three; we must learn to discern the time for each. A nap or a trip to the park could be the wise choice.
Diligence is lifting pressure, guilt, and regret from my shoulders. It is bringing joy, peace, and freedom. When we do what needs to be done when it needs to be done, old thorns crumble away and new ones never form.
Many strategies (setting the clock ahead, etc.) help overcome slothfulness. However, I found none of them to be effective until I did three critical things:
- Accept Responsibility – No blaming others or circumstances.
- Recognize “choosing” – Notice the split-second moments when I choose what to do. Realizing that I’m making a choice alerts me to choose wisely.
- Repent – Turn; go the other way. Choose diligence! Do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.
These basics help us form a habit of working in season. We walk on a road with fewer hindrances to our character growth and influence for Christ. Procrastination prevents godly fruit; diligence promotes it.
Does this mean an easy life? No. But our personal and family lives, homeschools, churches, and communities will benefit greatly as we gain time, energy, peace, and joy.
Former homeschool mom Beth Sterne encourages other women through her weekly blog at putoffprocrastination.com, speaks to Christian homeschool and ladies’ groups, and leads workshops on the topic of procrastination. This article first appeared in TVHE, Fall 2016.