A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. (Proverbs 10:4)
When I was in high school and even college, I had to fight the urge to procrastinate. It took a shear act of will to work on projects each day, rather than wait until the last minute. Over the years, procrastination stopped being as big a challenge. Perhaps this is why Devon Price’s article caught my eye. Dr. Price is a psychology professor who believes that procrastination doesn’t even exist. She argues that procrastination isn’t something people consciously choose, but is a reaction to other issues.
Dr. Price points out, “When it comes to behavioral 'laziness,’ I’m especially moved to ask: what are the barriers to action that I can’t see? There are always barriers. Recognizing those barriers— and viewing them as legitimate — is often the first step to breaking ‘lazy’ behavior patterns. It’s really helpful to respond to a person’s ineffective behavior with curiosity rather than judgment.” Laziness is a secondary response to a primary issue that needs to be addressed.
Dr. Price continues her argument: For decades, psychological research has been able to explain procrastination as a functioning problem, not a consequence of laziness. When a person fails to begin a project that they care about, it’s typically due to either a) anxiety about their attempts not being “good enough” or b) confusion about what the first steps of the task are. Not laziness. In fact, procrastination is more likely when the task is meaningful and the individual cares about doing it well.
To overcome perceived laziness or procrastination, Dr. Price argues that it is important to respond to procrastination by seeking out the barriers that lead to procrastination. Once the barrier is properly addressed, procrastination can be overcome. Today, pray for those who seem to constantly struggle with procrastination and have been labeled “lazy.” Allow the Holy Spirit to bring the wisdom necessary to recognize the barriers that keep us from being productive. Ask God to give us the patience and compassion to affirm - rather than condemn - those who haven’t broken down their barriers yet.