I recently saw a video which I thought was a funny yet true depiction of the relationship many of us have with work. The video was a dialogue between a person and his brain.
Person: The deadline approaches without mercy, and I stare at an empty screen.
Brain: We procrastinated for too long and now we suffer…
Person: [interjects…] Yes, thank you for the reminder. Now can you do that thing that makes us do all the doings in the last minute?
Brain: Then in that case I must activate “Deadline mode”.
Person: Yes, “Deadline Mode”, [starts typing] I am typing again. [ keeps typing] It’s like magic…
I laughed at the video but almost immediately, remembered all my unfinished work, including writing this piece. Well, I quickly got to work partly because the video had given me some inspiration for the piece but mostly because of my desire to be more disciplined with my work.
Many of us have unfinished tasks awaiting us. You may have shelved the final draft of the meeting for two weeks even though you promised your boss that you were going to submit it a day after the meeting. Some students may have chosen a good game of FIFA over studying for the third consecutive time because the final exams are a good four weeks away. Another may have switched to “deadline mode” to finish in 24 hours a 20-page research paper which was assigned 3 weeks ago. Does any of this sound familiar?
The reason we keep procrastinating is that we eventually get the work done. If we are honest with ourselves, however, we find that our poor relationship with deadlines makes us produce poor-quality work. We even resent ourselves for constantly producing work we know is far below our potential. Good work is borne of painstaking efforts but procrastination robs us of the time we need to produce such work.
For us believers, we are called to a high standard in our work. Paul says, work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people… for the Master you are serving is Christ (Colossians 3:23-24). How differently we will treat our work if we begin to see it as a task assigned to us by Christ! We need a paradigm shift if we are to work differently. Below are some truths from scripture to help us:
1. There is always great joy in looking back at our efforts and what it has helped us accomplish.
Discipline is not pleasant yet the results it brings are a better bargain than the satisfaction we gain from mindlessly scrolling through social media for 2 hours. We must endure the pain of discipline for a while to bask in the bliss of a task well done (Hebrews 12:11-13).
2. If we will serve in any position of influence, we must be disciplined.
It is only a man who is skilled at his work who will serve before kings (Proverbs 22:29) and being skilled is borne out of faithful discipline. Joseph is one of the Bible characters I believe embodies a heart of faithfulness and diligence. I don’t know what it takes to be a prisoner, but I bet Joseph must have been the most outstanding inmate to be put in charge of his colleagues. This proves he had a character of faithfulness and diligence which I doubt only appeared when he was promoted to Prime Minister.
3. Distraction is discipline’s nemesis.
In Ephesians 5: 15-17, we are reminded to not act thoughtlessly but to be careful how we live, making the most of every opportunity. We need wisdom to recognize distractions and to prioritize because not everything that screams ‘urgent’ demands our immediate attention and God is ever ready to give us the wisdom we need to prioritize (James 1:5).
4. Discipline is a product of God’s work in us.
When we can’t seem to get a hand on this habit of discipline, we can trust God to help us in our weakness for his strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and that, friends, is reassuring truth!
Completing this piece required me to be disciplined. I wanted to put it on hold many times, but I am glad I didn’t. I am still recovering from the joy of completing it.