The arrogance of procrastination

Posted by on Aug 27, 2023 in Blog | 9 comments

brown wooden blocks on white table

It was a perspective I hadn’t thought of before, and it struck me as insightful. She said it with some emotion. “People always think that procrastination is about being lazy, or uncertain, or non-committal, but it isn’t. It’s about being arrogant. It’s about assuming you will always have tomorrow. It’s about thinking another time will come around.” For her it was tinged with sadness – a sudden death, with so many things left unsaid. “It’s never the right time, is it? So you just keep waiting until it is, and that perfect moment never comes.”

What do you think of the sentiment? Is procrastination about being entitled – feeling confident that you are owed another day and another chance to do what you could (and probably should) have done today?

There is of course another side. We are told that “fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” and are cautioned that those who “decide in haste, regret at leisure”. Sometimes it is better to delay. There is no virtue in being impulsive or failing to think things through. The line between due diligence and dithering is fine, and it is as well to be aware of both perspectives.

The Bible often dances between two words for time, chronos and kairos.

Chronos is about the passing minutes and hours. Psalm 90:12 instructs us to “number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom”. The Psalmist is gently nudging us forward. “You don’t have forever. Number your days. Use them well.”

Kairos is about dramatic, potentially earth changing times. It’s the idea behind Brutus’ famous words in Julius Caesar,

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Ignore that decisive moment, and much – perhaps all – will be lost.

But there is a risk in placing too much emphasis on decisive moments. Ordinary life is lived within the rhythm of minutes and hours. It is here that we form our habits, and over time our habits shape our life. Some learn the habit of instinctive delay (“Why put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow”), others befriend their excuses, viewing them as a trusted “get out of jail free” card, yet others fail to note the passing summer, assuming tomorrow will always be available.

While poor habits can be formed, so can good ones. They include a bent towards action, curiosity before judgment, and accepting responsibility. Good habits invite you to lean in to life. Good habits are lived coram Deo – always conscious of God’s transforming presence and purpose.

It’s worth pondering the quote often misattributed to John Wesley, but no less significant even if he didn’t say it: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” Some versions add a sobering, “For you shall not pass this way again.” I suspect whoever said it didn’t mean, “and do that starting tomorrow.” So carpe diem – seize the day. And do it today…

As always, nice chatting…

Photo by Brett Jordan on

Please widen the reach of this blog by reposting or forwarding it to those who might find it helpful. Reproduce material with acknowledgment of source.


  1. Wonderful Brian!

    Let us not take one precious moment for granted, and so I feel gratitude is like the antidote for procrastination. Thank you and today be blessed!

    • Thanks Jim. I love the idea you share that gratitude moves us to action.

  2. Comment *hi Brian, maybe procrastination is our body reminding us that life is to be lived at a pace that looks after our mental, physical, emotional self. This demands that we pause, breathe, notice, sleep, wait. The ‘do all you can, whenever you can’ quote is one I love to hate, it’s simply a path to burnout, true foolishness. There’s a good reason why evening comes before morning in Genesis one, our day starts by putting our head on our pillow and embracing the grace gift that is rest.

    • Thanks Phil. Very good to hear from you and a good pushback on the not actually Wesley quote. It’s a fine dance isn’t it – between being open and engaged, and being driven.

  3. Comment *Kairos time: “Look! The right time is now! Look! The day of salvation is here!”(2 Cor 6:2, NTE)
    So many ways to look at kairos time – a crisis, an opportunity. Important to note that God can turn that decisive moment to good, so I like to think of it as a God moment.

    • Great insights. Thanks Kerryn.

      • Thanks Brian. I really resonated with the quote in the opening paragraph. I’ve been there! Love the reminder to focus on kairos rather than chronos.

  4. Thank you Brian. What a good perspective.
    I wonder if you’ve seen this wonderful perspective?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Brian Harris

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading