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Book Review – Procrastination: First Steps to Change

Walter Henegar

P & R Publishing, July 2004, 18 pp., $2.99, http://www.prpbooks.com

Recommended. A biblical look at a culturally acceptable yet deeply rooted sinful pattern.

Here’s another high-quality entry in the Resources for Changing Lives series. Walter Henegar, an assistant pastor at Christ Church Presbyterian in Atlanta, begins by providing an honest look at his own history of procrastination. He aptly distinguishes procrastination from laziness; he was very busy and productive, BUT his instinct is to put off any task that is “remotely unpleasant.” By the end of the first page, I found myself seeing my own patterns of procrastination in a much clearer, distinct light.

At some point in his life, Henegar made two discoveries about his procrastination:

1. That it was orderly and predictable. It followed a system. (e.g., “if it’s not due tomorrow, put it off; if it’s crunch time, neglect all else to get it done; if you’ve just finished a big job, reward yourself, etc.”)

2. The system largely hid itself from Henegar most of the time!

Henegar then began studying his procrastination habits, and he discovered that during times when he was supposed to be working, he was often instead doing other good things–organizing a desk, cleaning out a drawer–or seemingly harmless things–watching an hour of TV, getting something from the fridge.

Reading the rest of Henegar’s process of discovery is enjoyable and inviting; his prose is thoughtful, approachable, and his insights appear on every page. Some of my favorites:

  • How procrastinating by doing good things (Henegar mentions Charles Hummel’s Tyranny of the Urgent) is ignoring our calling.
  • Heart issues within procrastination (pride, fear of failure, pleasure-seeking, escapism, etc.)
  • Repenting of acts of sin is important, but so is repenting of sinful attitudes.

Along the way, Henegar describes some practical solutions, such as:

  • Composing a long list of “if-onlys” to discern the details of our heart attitudes
  • Using “forward-looking” repentance (i.e., while praying for God’s forgiveness, thinking ahead to future tempting situations and asking for strength to act wisely when they come)
  • “Rather than forcing myself to complete every unfinished task, I forced myself to accept some losses and focus on absolute top priorities” such as time in prayer, time with family, and adequate sleep.

I like having this booklet on my shelf, for re-reading when I become forgetful and for giving away. I strongly encourage everyone to disseminate this booklet within their local congregations!

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About davestuartjr
Dave Stuart Jr. is a full-time teacher who writes about becoming better, saner teachers at TeachingtheCore.com. He is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Crystal, and a father to Hadassah, Laura, and Marlena.

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