We are talking with our friend Trip Lee. Trip in your new book Rise, you write this: “To put it simply, procrastination is pride, because it assumes you know the future. But we don’t know when our health will decline or our lives will end. We don’t even know for sure when life will get busier” (59). Knowing that our time is short helps to bring clarity to our daily priorities, and it makes us diligent in those priorities. Explain that.
I feel very experienced in writing about procrastination, because it has been something that has been an issue for me over my lifetime. Management was not a natural strength for me. And especially in my college years, time management and procrastination would pop up a lot, and God really convicted me.
‘Later’ Is Not Guaranteed
When I say to myself over and over again, You know what? I will do this later, I am assuming that I will have a later, right? I am assuming that I will have the time to do that at some other time, and that is just knowledge that I don’t really have. It is like what James says in James 4:13–15:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
And I think one of the principles there is it is very proud to say with certainty that today or tomorrow you will do this or that. And so when we get into thinking about procrastination, if I have a task that needs to be done and I say, You know what? I am just going to do that later, I am assuming that I have God’s sovereign knowledge of all things, and that I am definitely going to be able to do that. And so what that does for me is it helps me to think a lot more carefully about the way that I am spending my time, so that I wouldn’t be so proud assuming that this time right now that I have belongs to me when it really belongs to God, or assuming that I will get to have more time later.
This becomes really clear with kids, where, as opposed to when I was single and unmarried, there was more chance of me always having time to do other things. But now that I have kids, it is like the Lord has given me a little illustration of reminder that you can’t get time back. And so you have to use the time that you have very, very carefully, even beyond just other things coming up. We don’t know for sure that our life will be extended.
All We Have Is Now
And so the only thing that I know about is right now. The only moment I know that I will have is the one I am in right now. And that has to change my approach to things. So, for instance, when I meet a friend in my neighborhood, and I feel led to tell them about Jesus and think, Man, I need to share the gospel with them, I can’t just always assume I will do that next week or I will do that next year because I just don’t know that I will get a next week or a next year. And I have to be faithful then. The moment I know that I have to share the gospel with them is right now.
And, of course, there is balance to that. That doesn’t mean I have to hop out of the car every time I drive by somebody, but I do have to think carefully: God has given me this moment right now. How can I use my right now to be faithful to him, and move forward and use every moment to be faithful instead of putting stuff off?