Staying on time and up to date

“Felix became frightened and said (to Paul), ‘Go away for the present, and when I find time, I will summon you'” (Acts 24:25).

What are you putting off which you should have done today?

It happened to me again tonight.

A Facebook friend texted asking for a drawing of him for use in his ministry of speaking and entertaining.  I said I’d give it a try.

A half-hour later, he had the drawing in hand, both in black and white and in color.

Two things come into play here.  One, he caught me when I was not busy, and two, I hate to agree to do something and then have it weigh on my mind.  Let’s get it done.

When I was pastoring, I hated to have something on my mind that I needed to do–a visit to make, an article to write, studying to do, a staff project to get underway–and kept pushing onto the back burner.

Knowing I’m expected to do something which I’m reluctant to do or having trouble getting to weighs heavily on my mind and saps my joy.

Fresh out of college and as an employee of a cast iron pipe plant in Birmingham, Alabama, I was a member–along with a dozen co-workers–of a young executives organization.  Basically, thanks to the company, it got us a free steak dinner once a month and a motivational message.  One evening, they handed out four or five boxes of candy we were expected to sell for some cause or other.

With a dozen colleagues in our company also selling this stuff, I knew the competition would be keen the next day. So I did something.

I arrived 30 minutes early the next morning and sold my candy to the big bosses. By the time the others showed up and began pushing their candy, mine was sold out.

Already, I had learned that about myself, how I despise having an assignment about which I keep procrastinating.

Best to get to it.  Get it off my agenda and out of my mind.

These days in retirement, my wife will say, “Here’s a list of things I need from the grocery store the next time you’re going.”  I grab the list and am out the door.

She protests. “I didn’t mean now.”

I answer that I don’t want anything cluttering my mind that I’m supposed to do and haven’t done.

Not that I always follow that principle or abide by that conviction.

People sometimes send me books to review or requests for me to sketch something that turns out to be difficult. “Draw my daddy and my uncle from these two separate photos, put them together on a beach with a ’49 Ford in the background, etc. etc.”

I give it a try, realize this is not going to be as simple as I had thought, and wonder how I get myself into these fixes in the first place.

Next thing you know, it’s been a month or more and I’ve still not done it.  I’ve not kept my promise.

The mental wear and tear of procrastinating are far worse than the pain of doing the job in the first place!

Every pastor knows that dreaded feeling when you’ve promised someone you would visit them, or call on their second cousin who has just relocated here, or drive to the next city and visit a relative in the ICU at a hospital.  You were sincere in promising it, but your life is busy and your schedule is full and this “thing” was not in your comfort zone.

Over the years, living in a major city as we do, from time to time we get requests from distant pastors to call on a church member who is in a local hospital for a heart transplant or the step-daughter of a member who is astray in New Orleans and may be living on the streets in the French Quarter.  I have learned that the only way to do this is to drop everything and make that visit today or first thing tomorrow.  Otherwise, it gets pushed to the back burner and may never get done.

On October 10, those of us involved in the work of Global Maritime Ministries will be putting on the annual fundraiser called “Global Fest.”  It’ll involve a great dinner and gospel entertainment, followed by a massive silent auction with hundreds of terrific items.  I’ll be sketching nonstop for donations, all in an attempt to raise thirty or forty thousand dollars for this ministry to ships crews and port workers.  One aspect of the Global Fest is selling sponsorships to businesses.  For $500, a company can get a table for eight at the dinner and be listed in the printed program as a sponsor and receive recognition.  Board members, of which I am one, are charged with lining up good friends whose companies would be willing to participate.

Several of our members have really been working.  Me, I’ve been thinking about it and praying about it.  And, yes, it has been weighing on my mind.

This afternoon, I finally got around to making my first visit.  I called on some friends with a business that services tugboats and towboats up and down the river, and had an enjoyable time with them.  They were receptive and appreciative.  I’ll double check in a few days to see what they’ve decided.

So, I’m on my way.  I feel much better now.

Smiley-face goes here.

What are you putting off?  It won’t get any easier.  Just do it.


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