Overcoming Procrastination

Overcoming procrastination, expressed by the persistent putting off of your creative expression, can be a daunting prospect for a Christian artist. Although acutely aware of our mission, we find ourselves sometimes avoiding the very task to which we have been called – the creation of art.

Overcoming procrastination is possible, if we can identify why we put off something that thrills us like the making of art. Then, after searching the Bible for solutions for our inclination to avoid creating, we can perhaps effectively overcome.

Here are some hindrances that I've found to productivity, perhaps they'll help you too.

Overcoming Procrastination: Is it a fear of our limited capabilities?
Have you, like me, enviously watched a demonstration at an art club event? The artist seems so self-assured and confident. Chattering away about the process, he, or she, never misses a beat, effortlessly creating a beautiful painting in about thirty minutes. There is no errant brushstroke, or muddy color. In fact, it appeared as if they knew precisely what to expect at each stage of the creative act.

The creation of art is never that predictable. If it were, it would be dull and lifeless. Those of us watching the demonstration learned a little bit about the artist's process and technique. Not quite as apparent, is the fact that the entire event would not be entertaining had the artist not carefully choreographed it.

In our studios, we are aware of the agony of staring at a blank canvas bereft of ideas, of poorly thought out compositions and mistakes that mock our feeble creative ability. That very trauma is unique to the creative process. Failure to recognize it as a common problem of every artist, no matter how accomplished, is the trap that often leads to procrastination. Overcoming procrastination then becomes a matter of acknowledging  the stumbling block of our limited ability, leaning upon the Lord to make much of our little - and then resolutely pressing on.

Overcoming Procrastination: Is it a dislike of the unknown?
By procrastinating, we unconsciously endeavor to avoid the pain of that tortuous aspect of the creative process - the unknown. How will this work turn out? What on earth am I attempting to say...? Never one to be overly concerned with an immaculate studio, I frequently find myself tidying up around me – anything to avoid tackling a new project! How easy it is to tinker with tools, read art books and magazines and never really begin! Perhaps you find yourself simply putting off entering your studio or workspace. You're not alone! 

Overcoming Procrastination: Frustration is a bitter pill to swallow!
Frustration, usually the predictable result of procrastination is galling because we are truly most fulfilled when we create. As Christian artists, being creatively engaged is our sacred destiny. The danger of procrastination is that it feeds on itself. The more you put off getting started, the more intimidating the task appears and the less likely you are to actually begin. Overcoming procrastination then becomes vital to stop the downward spiral of inactivity. I remind myself then that even the feeblest attempt is better than the  frustrating acid of not having tackled some creative activity!

Overcoming Procrastination: Some help from God's word that encouraged me.

As an artist, in Christ, you have the favor of God. Meditating on the truths presented here will slowly and surely walk you through to overcoming procrastination. Consider this beautiful prayer prayed ages ago by Moses. God, who answered that ancient prayer, is unchanging in His intent. He will honor it for you today. Even the language is specific and soothingly poetic!

”.. let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it." Ps 90:17 KJV

It thrilled me to discover the meaning of one of the Hebrew words in this psalm. The word for "work" (ma`aseh) was used frequently to describe finely crafted, skilled work, like in the descriptions of the embroidery of the tabernacle, the beauty of the sapphire under God’s feet, as witnessed by Moses and the elders, in Ex 24:10 and numerous other similar instances. In a broader form of usage, it means the labor of our hands.

Did you know that God placed a hedge around Job and his "work"- (ma`aseh)?

“ Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the "work"- (ma`aseh) of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.” Job1:10 KJV

These were words spoken by Satan about the undeniable fact of Job's prosperity.

As His beloved children, we are already recipients of God’s favor through Jesus. His intent is for the work of our hands to be established by Him. Is that not motivation enough for overcoming procrastination, even if the outcome seems cloudy when we begin?

LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works- (ma`aseh) in us. Is26:12 KJV

These great men of God would never have prayed the prayers above, if they were not certain that they were praying according to His will. Needless to say, God never denied Satan’s accusation of favoring Job, protecting him or establishing the work of his hands!

God alone can impart to us urgency, a vital trait for overcoming procrastination, resulting in the brisk and effective use of our gift. I can never be persuasive enough to tell you how brief your life is, or how you must quickly go about the business of creating art. God alone can impart that to you, as you earnestly pray.

Time, as we know it, will one day be rolled up like a garment and swallowed up in eternity.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."Ps 90:12 KJV

When you pursue creating art as you were meant to, here are some things to remember:

  • False starts and some lousy work are an inevitable part of creating wonderful works of art.
  • The promise of increase in every area of the believer’s life is our inheritance, and at the very core of the gift of salvation.
  • Every ‘bad’ work of art is merely your faulty perception. View it instead as your faithful service in creating the "work" (ma`aseh) for Him to establish
  • Therefore, any time spent creating art, is time well spent.
  •  Claim God’s favor and trust His ability to establish your work in ways you cannot even imagine today.
  • Allow your focus to shift to the eternal, remember that your labor has divine weight and dynamic meaning
  • Cheerily expect some set backs, just don't let them become events to dread 

 Overcoming procrastination is possible, when you are confident that your heavenly Father is your partner in the use of your time, and the fruitfulness of your labor.

Don't go it alone, avail of His gracious and generous help!


Why do you procrastinate?

Do you have an insight, or a story to tell about procrastinating? Share it!

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