The Effects of Procrastination on Our Spiritual Lives

"Felix is the type of the millions whose spiritual life is ruined by procrastination" (Philip Henry, seventh century preacher).

His story speaks volumes not only to Christian believers, but to followers on all spiritual pursuits. He once stood at the crossroads, prompted by his conscience to detour from the path of self-indulgence onto to the path of personal faith. His response to the messenger was one which many have thought or spoken:

Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you” (Acts 24:25 NKJV).

Using Felix's story to illustrate the effects of procrastination, we will find ourselves relating to the experience of self-sabotage which results from delay. Moving forward, we will reflect on ways to prevent these dangers to our spiritual growth.

Prisoner Paul before Governor Felix

Painting by William Hogarth
Painting by William Hogarth | Source

(1) Altered Convictions

"It cost you a struggle to resist conviction the first time . . . now . . . you can resist every appeal without effort." - J. M. Sherwood, D.D.

The Apostle Paul, standing in prison chains before Felix the Governor of Judea, discussed morality—to which the governor’s public life was the opposite; and judgment—which was a natural consequence both from man and from God. Felix panicked, but instead of acting on the truth which confronted him, he claimed that the time was not right.

Felix and Paul continued to meet, but Felix focused on obtaining a bribe from Paul for his release from prison. Never mind that the first time they met, Felix was convinced of Paul’s innocence. Eventually, neither his knowledge of Paul's honesty, nor his conviction of the need to change his evil ways seemed to bother his conscience anymore.

How often do we reflect on attitudes and actions which previously made us feel uncomfortable, but not anymore? Whatever the reason (distraction, fear, self-absorption) procrastination can make us outgrow our desire to improve spiritually.


(2) Inner Conflict

"When we know what we ought to do, and we fail to move from intention to action – what we commonly know as procrastination – we experience guilt." - Timothy A Pychyl Ph.D.

Chained by a Guilty Conscience

Drawn by Don Harold
Drawn by Don Harold | Source

Knowing that Paul was innocent, Governor Felix should have set him free. Instead, with conflicting motives, he imprisoned the apostle.

Keeping Paul confined made the governor popular with the Jews who hated Paul; but allowing him privileges appeased the Romans, because Paul claimed Roman citizenship. While the prisoner in chains experienced freedom in his spirit, the governor experienced imprisonment by a guilty conscience.

The conflict within Felix was not unlike the conflict which procrastination creates in the minds of believers who wait to see what would happen. Instead of following our convictions, we weigh the pros and cons of obedience and generate conflict for ourselves and for those under our influence. When “Just do it” seems difficult, it is time to turn to God for divine empowerment.


(3) Excessive Busyness

"A man does not need to . . . defy his God, nor sell his soul voluntarily. He only needs to say, "Suffer me first to do this lesser thing." The moment that is done, there will be another "Suffer me first" in its place." - H. W. Beecher, Congregationalist Clergyman

What kind of activity do we engage in when we put off doing the right thing which God tells us to do at the time He tells us to do it? Something less urgent? Something unnecessary? Something wrong? All these are possibilities when we allow ourselves to be distracted from our spiritual priorities. Sometimes we keep busy to drown out the voice of conscience.

For Felix, issues like maintaining his popularity and obtaining a bribe took priority over his spiritual growth. For us, the issues may be similar: securing a position, rebuilding a relationship, even establishing a ministry. Nothing is worth our immediate attention if it makes us postpone our connectedness with, and our obedience to God.


(4) Stunted Growth

"Procrastination saps power; completion gives relief." - David McCasland, Our Daily Bread

Prayer: A Procrastination Tool?

Photographer: Steve Evans
Photographer: Steve Evans | Source

Procrastination in our spiritual lives delays our spiritual growth. We can even procrastinate by praying repeatedly to know God's will about things He already revealed in His Word. And how long will we remain lazy, pig-headed, selfish creatures when our teachers have already taught us how to improve our lives?

The Roman historian, Tacitus, said of Felix: “He exercised the authority of a king, with the spirit of a slave.” Born a slave, Felix worked hard to change his social status all the way to becoming the Governor of Judea. Still, in the company of Paul the free-spirited prisoner, the political achiever showed no progress in spiritual or moral stature.

How much improvement, over the past year, have we noticed in our spiritual growth? Is it more teaching that we need, or just a sense of urgency to apply the lessons we already learned? The research says that it takes the same amount of effort to procrastinate as it does to act timely.


(5) Lost Opportunity

The road of ‘by and by’ leads to the town of Never. - H.R. Burton

Which of the following caused me to procrastinate in the past but, with divine help, will be less of a problem in the future?

  • Excessive Busyness
  • Fear of Change
  • Self-Doubt
  • A Disobedient Spirit
  • Other
See results without voting

In the material world of deadlines, procrastinators muster up reserved energy and brace the performance tape at the last minute. In the spiritual life, because of the ongoing uncertainty about the time of the end, as long as procrastinators live, they expect to live a little longer. "By and by” is their favorite song.

Felix never found a convenient time to listen to Paul; he lost that one valuable opportunity. According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “His leaving Paul in bonds was but a final instance of one who sacrificed duty and justice for the sake of his own unscrupulous selfishness.” His later life was also described with words like evil, cruel and disgraceful.

Might his life have been different if he took the opportunity to embark on a new beginning? Does his experience encourage us to stop procrastinating when we are offered spiritual guidance? Imagine the sweet, fulfilling, divine fellowship we could enjoy if we never put God’s voice on hold.

Whenever we remember Felix, let us also remember, "Scripture says, 'If you hear God speak today, don't be stubborn. Don't be stubborn like those who rebelled' (Hebrews 3:15 GOD'S WORD® Translation).


References

Acts 24: 22-27

Bible Hub: Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, Acts 24: 25, Copyright 2004 - 2015 by Biblos.com

Felix, the Procrastinating Governor, Copyright Jerry Shirley and Grace Notes Ministries®

© 2016 Dora Isaac Weithers

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Comments 50 comments

MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

This article is the answer to the question, " What are the effects of procrastination on our spiritual life?" posed by Lawal Abiodun (Pacesetter Abbey) in the HubPages Questions. Thank you, Pacesetter for this and all your other inspirations.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 7 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Marvelous and like all good writings of the spiritual -- right on time in my life. Time to bump it up to the next level. "Oh what a very wicked way, when we practice to delay". Thanks for this great lesson Dora.


Jay C OBrien profile image

Jay C OBrien 7 months ago from Houston, TX USA

Perhaps the time has come for people to renounce the Old Testament (OT) depiction of God (jealous, vengeful, killer) in favor of what Jesus (NT) taught (a loving, non-condemning, forgiving father). If Jesus is true, the OT must be false. Do not delay, follow what Jesus taught.


Norine Williams 7 months ago

"And how long will we remain lazy, pig-headed, selfish creatures when our teachers have already taught us how to improve our lives?”

Ms. Dora, I must say “You hit the nail on the head!” It is MOST OFTEN our ego and pride that will not allow us to improve our “spiritual” lives by using the "demonic spirit" of "Procrastination!" The Scriptures say “God forbid: yea, let GOD be true, but every man a liar; as IT IS WRITTEN, That thou mayest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” Have I not continuously given Scripture?

King Agrippa KNEW Paul was speaking truth (Acts 26:28; 32) {paraphrasing} “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” (v32) “This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed to Caesar.” Did King Agrippa “miss” opportunity by saying “ALMOST” thou persuadest me to be a Christian?” I know he did based on WORD! Scripture says “TODAY” if ye will hear his voice, (v8) Harden not your hearts…” (Hebrews 3:7-8)! “Procrastination” prevented him from accepting “truth” because of “pride and ego!”

As the world does today, the Centurion (Acts 27:11) “believed the master and owner of the ship, more than those things spoken by Paul,” who had Jesus working “through him!” Verses 23-24 says “For there stood by me this night the angel of GOD, “whose I am,” and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, GOD hath given thee all them that sail with thee.” You “think” the Holy Spirit was not working through Paul, continuing to “fulfill law” and working in Christ’s stead (Acts 9:15)?

Why do MOST continue to let what “RELIGION” has taught “lose our souls?” IT IS WRITTEN! Why can’t you “see” GOD was continuing to do as HE said HE would in Jeremiah 31:33 and Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16? Why can’t you “see” the operation of the Holy Spirit AFTER Christ’s ascension through Paul? Do you not BELIEVE Scripture? Read it for yourselves or are you too “…lazy, pig-headed, and selfish” to “work out your own salvation” (Philippians 2:12)?

“How much improvement, over the past year, have we noticed in our spiritual growth?” IF one doesn’t BELIEVE, one will NEVER “notice any “spiritual” growth! Did not II Corinthians 3:18 say {paraphrasing}, “…we change from glory to glory?” Have you “changed” lately or do you remain “COMPLACENT” in “your belief?”

II Timothy 2:15 tells us to “STUDY” to shew thyself approved unto GOD!” Do we do that or do we remain complacent “thinking” “My God and I got this!” If so, “Woe be unto you!” It will be quite HORRENDOUS when you hear JESUS say, “Depart from me, I NEVER knew you” (Matthew 7:21-23)!!!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

I was once a huge procrastinator...not so much now. I found, through years of trial and error, that the fear of an outcome is almost always worse than the outcome, so might as well get to it!

Thank you for a valuable reminder, Dora!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Eric, that's the way it is; the teacher appears when the student is ready. Seems true for you and me both. Thanks for your feedback.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Jay, thank you for sharing your interesting insight. Seems that God is the opposite of Jesus in your opinion. Otherwise, following the teachings of Jesus without procrastination is good advice.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Norine, thanks for your input. Your Bible verses are relevant and illustrative of the topic.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Bill, thanks for your valuable comment: "The fear of an outcome is almost always worse than the outcome." Wish I had added that myself.


Norine Williams 7 months ago

JC: What you say defies Scripture!!!

"If Jesus is true, the OT must be false." Deuteronomy 6:4 says "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our GOD is "ONE" LORD:" "RELIGION" (Satan) has "deceived" you! I Timothy 3:16 says "And "without controversy" great is the "mystery" of godliness: GOD was manifested in the flesh, justified by the Spirit, seen of angels, "preached" (JESUS) unto the Gentiles, believed on IN THE WORLD (JESUS), received up into glory" in Acts 1:9 (JESUS)!

Even "doubting Thomas" had to repent from "UNBELIEF" when he said in John 20:28 "My Lord and My GOD!" If Deuteronomy 6:4 says "There is "ONE" LORD," why do "you think" JESUS and GOD are two different "persons!" "The Trinity" has deceived MOST!

We can NEVER "renounce the Old Testament (OT)" ..."in favor of what JESUS taught..." for THEY are ONE SPIRIT in different "GLORIES!" I Corinthians Chapter 12 tells us {paraphrasing} "We are all members of Christ with ONE SPIRIT ("Glories!"), (v11) But all these worketh that ONE and SAME SPIRIT, dividing to every man severally as HE will. (v12) For is the body is ONE, and hath many members ("Glories!"), and all the members of that ONE body, being many, are ONE body: SO ALSO IS CHRIST!" Did you "hear?" "So also is Christ" who has MANY "GLORIES!"

Don't let "RELIGION" (Satan) deceive you!!!

IT IS WRITTEN!

Those "coming unto Christ" need the Old Testament for IT is our "Schoolmaster!" READ Galatians 3:23-29!!!


PAINTDRIPS profile image

PAINTDRIPS 7 months ago from Fresno CA

Thank you MsDora for a wonderful Scripture-filled Sunday sermon this morning. I loved it and feel edified to improve my life by stopping the procrastination I know I fall into. Lovely message for a early Sunday a.m.


Carolyn M Fields profile image

Carolyn M Fields 7 months ago from the USA

Today our Pastor shared a poem about gardening. Every garden should have turnips:

Turnip for meetings

Turnip for service

Turnip to help one another

That is to say, one must have DEEDS as well as WORDS. Excellent hub!


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 7 months ago from The Beautiful South

Well this writing sure convicted me. Aren't we all a little guilty of procrastination? Being in the world makes it difficult not to be. Not counting out and out disobedience.

Another great food for thought lesson, Dora and may all your writings convict us a little to make our intentions and goals more honest and Godlike.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Denise, by calling my article a sermon, you encourage me to share Scriptural topics. Truth is, it is a message to me as well. I appreciate your feedback.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Carolyn, thanks for passing on your pastor's message. It is relevant to the message here of acting instead of procrastinating.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Yes, Jackie. I'm still fighting with procrastination. Had some convictions myself while writing this article. Thanks for your encouraging feedback.


Jay C OBrien profile image

Jay C OBrien 7 months ago from Houston, TX USA

MsDora & Norine: you both misunderstand. Jesus and his teachings are who I follow. The OT, God of Israel could not possibly be the same God of Jesus. The people who mislead you are the Rabbis. The Rabbis teach they were chosen of God, given land and then told to fight and kill for it. Joshua even killed little children to get land. This is contrary to Jesus. Surely you can see that the "scripture" of the Rabbis is an archaic way of thought. It is time to Renounce the God of Israel and apply what Jesus actually taught. "Scripture" is what Jesus taught, Not the Rabbis. Now do you understand? Do Not follow the self serving statements of the Rabbis. They mislead.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Jay, thanks for your explanation. I applaud your decision to follow Jesus and His teachings.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 7 months ago from USA

We're all guilty of procrastination from time to time. Dear Dora, you certainly know your scripture.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Flourish, I do love Bible Study and I like to share. Thanks for reading and encouraging as usual.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

To Norine: I appreciate your following and commenting on my articles, but please be reasonable. You have written five separate comments and I have deleted three. Comments of 1100 words or more are wearisome and can be written in a separate article. In the same way that I wrote this article to answer the question mentioned in the very first comment, I encourage you also to write a separate article to make your points. Please be understanding. Thank you.


Norine Williams 7 months ago

Now you KNOW! What you do is up to you! You have a "choice!"

Thanks for allowing me to tell TRUTH!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 7 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thank you for sharing the important advice, Dora. Procrastination can create big problems in life. I appreciate your knowledge of the Bible.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 7 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

We procrastinate many times if it does not suit us, affect us or we dread the consequences. You make valid points here and when we have the answer in our Scriptures in the form of Word of God there is no reason for procrastination. It will certainly hinder our spiritual growth.


DDE profile image

DDE 7 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Hi MsDora Interesting hub! Sometimes the simple daily tasks can make one to prolong their important duties. I try to do what is important and let go of what is not. When something needs attention it has to be taken care of ignoring that task will make me frustrated.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Norine, I appreciate your cooperation!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Alicia, sometimes the problems are big enough to last a lifetime. Thanks for your feedback.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Rajan, you add more reasons that people give for procrastinating. So true. Thanks for your input.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Devika, you seem to have it together. Following your priority list is a good habit to form. Thanks for sharing.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Norine, the next time you post a comment under this article, I will send a harassment complaint to HubPages. You are free to do your preaching, your judging, your aggravating, your truth telling (all your words) on your page. God talks to me also and I write on my page what He tells me. Will you please write on your page what He tells you? Can we all get along?


word55 profile image

word55 7 months ago from Chicago

Very well done Dora. God says, "Stand still and know that I am God." We must also recognize that He can do all things. We don't need to do all the work but God is there to help. There is no need to procrastinate but pray for guidance of God's Holy Spirit. We must move daily. So, pray for the Holy Spirit to move us in the necessary directions to get things done right and in time. Thank you!


word55 profile image

word55 7 months ago from Chicago

I had to come back and add that this was such a superb hub. After reading many comments here (which I rarely do) I find that everyone that disagreed with you here in some way, form or fashion is guilty of procrastination. You did a fine job of pointing out the more relevant issues for it. I appreciate your frankness and truthfulness. May God continue to bless and use you my dear friend.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 7 months ago from Pacific Northwest

Very profound and powerful, Dora, AND convicting. It was hard to choose on the poll. I felt like tow or three applied and I couldn't decide which was most true, but I voted anyway.

As Felix was not a believer, the point is still very powerful. How much more so when the believer is guilty of this sin. I think such a sin is insidious. Each time we procrastinate we feel guilty and yet we continue to do it and eventually we become desensitized. We've put God on the back burner and we will carve out some time for Him soon.

This issue has been a problem for me in recent months so I appreciate this article (my true confession). Thanks for your sharing this wisdom.

Norine's harassment is disturbing because a godly, loving spirit is not abusive or agrressive. Good for you for confronting it firmly and without malice.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 7 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

Hi MsDora,

What a most needed topic for all, but especially for those in ministry. The old procrastination bug often tries to interfere, and priorities can get changed so easily. I'm speaking from experience on that one. You said it well. Thanks for clarity, sensitivity, and accuracy with all you said!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Word, thanks for your affirmation. I do not usually get opposition, but I guess I don't usually write with such a religious tone. However, I will not be discouraged. Not with people like you in my corner! I appreciate your feedback.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Lori. Believe it or not, I was also convicted when studying Felix again. Procrastination is one of my short-comings, and I intend to trust God more for victory over this damaging trait. I appreciate your support.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Bill, I can relate to procrastination in ministry. May God help us to obey with urgency. Thanks for your input.


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 7 months ago from Florida

This is such a great article, MsDora. I loved reading this, and understood the meaning behind it.

I have never felt like I was a procrastinator at anything. Although, I'm sure, some of the people around me would disagree, but just because I didn't work in the way they saw fit, I've always been a bit different doing things my own way.

Spiritually, I believe this is an area I have not procrastinated in, but others like a few family members will say I have. However, it's only because they don't see my spirituality, and it's not because I haven't explained it to them, they simply do not want to see it. Reasons; because I do not enter the church every Sunday, but that doesn't mean I don't pray every single day. Another reason, because though raised with Christian faith, I still relate to other religions and their views.

I have this one on one with God. I've told them that. I hear him clearly, and I do what I'm told. He understands my individuality, and even commends me for seeking all views. He does not reprimand me for my visions of spiritual growth, yet instead walks with me on my path of what I see as my own spirituality.

In saying that, I do not shun that I was raised Christian, and I do believe in Christian ways, but I have my own way to value them; that's all.

Great discussion piece. It makes you think. :)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Missy, I hear you. Your one on one relationship is most valuable. Continue to take your cues (and your evaluations) from Him. Best to you going forward!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 7 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

An "all of the above" option on the poll would have been appropriate for me! I know I am guilty of procrastination. I tend to put things off because I don't feel "ready" to deal with them at the moment, especially if it has to do with transition or change in my personal life. Perhaps that is what Felix was concerned about with this new faith that Paul introduced to him. He was too heavily invested in his own reality to think about making changes for a better future. I can relate!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks Denise, for your valuable input. "All of the above" would have been a smart option. Now I'm going, "Why didn't I think of that?"


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 7 months ago from Shelton

again MsDora, you've written volumes in the answers.. to questions we all might have of procrastination... I think many of us are guilty of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones... you agree? again what a wonderful, insightful hub


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Frank, I agree. Many, if not all of us are guilty. Thanks for your affirmation.


Pacesetter Abbey profile image

Pacesetter Abbey 7 months ago from Houston, Texas.

Thanks a lot MsDora.

Everything you've said sounds realistic to me, there are some that actually correlates to my past and present experience in procrastination.

Sometimes, I find it unwise of people dawdling while doing something that contributes greatly to their individual lives. We really don't seem to realize how much we lose when we postpone a task. The fact is that we all procrastinate, we overlook less important tasks, thinking it will have no negative impact neglecting it. No matter how less important a task is, procrastination will always rob us of our time.

"Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (Eph 5:16)

Thank you MsDora for writing this article.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Lawal, thanks for the opportunity to contribute to such an important topic. I also learned much about me while preparing it. Glad you approve!


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 6 months ago from london

This is exquisite writing Dee, better than many of the writer's that I pulled off the shelves in Jamaica, Queens, NY. Are you writing a book? perhaps you can put some of your Hubs together, then ask Doris Dancy for help or advice. She is awesome but also very busy. Commendations.


Norine Williams 6 months ago

"Birds of a feather (Unbelievers) flock together " (Psalms 119:63)!

Unbelievers = Idol gods and Trinity believers!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 6 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Manatita, I may follow up on your advice. Thanks for your encouragement.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 6 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Norine, thank you for reading my article, and registering your feedback.


Norine Williams 6 months ago

You're welcome Ms. Dora.

I only give WORD which talks to one's spirit, not the person! GOD wishes "no one (spirit) lost," and so do I!

WORD=GOD=LOVE!

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