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The Priority of Action
By Dan Vis
May 21, 2018
Comments: 34

Note: Since we're all hands-on-deck busy with our Application Workshop, figured I would pull one out of the archives. And I went back a long ways this time, to my third post ever. It's more about time management than personal application, but the principle carries over. If you are in AWE it's worth reviewing this and making a few connections...

The other day I received an email from a blogger I read occasionally, and he asked a simple question:

Which of the following approaches will help you get more done?
Option 1: Creating a comprehensive to-do list
Option 2: Researching something you plan to do
Option 3: Doing something

He then pointed out something that might seem common sense: while options one and two both have their place, the only option that actually gets anything done is option number three. All the to-do lists and research in the world won't move you forward unless they lead to action. So why not go there directly?

He went on to suggest the reason we don't choose option three revolves around the issue of risk. Creating a to-do list, or researching strategies and methodologies give you a feeling of accomplishment, without involving any risk--so they are both attractive. But as long as we remain risk-averse, it's easy to get stuck in a cycle of preparation (really procrastination) and never quite move on to action.

Taking some action, in contrast, always involves risk. It might not work. Our efforts might not be successful. We could end up disappointed, frustrated, discouraged or worse.

But it is the only path to real progress.

Sometimes even little steps can be massive breakthroughs--simply because they are a step. And small steps can inspire us to go on and take another step. And then another. Each success building on the ones before, creating momentum. Here is the basic process: Action. Success. Momentum.

So the next time you feel tempted to start writing out more to-do lists, or spend a few hours in research--make sure it is not in fact a delaying tactic on your part. Remember the simple truism: only forward movement gets you moving forward!


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Comments

What do you do to make sure you keep moving forward? Are there are ways we procrastinate beside making list and doing research? Share some ideas in the comments below.

Posted by Dan Vis on 05/25/18
Glad this was helpful Valerie. :) It is easy to be distracted, but praise God, He is calling us to greater focus in these exciting last days of earth's history!
Posted by Valerie Wise Burrell on 05/25/18
This is such a good memo for me. In fact, I chuckled as I read the third step. I have always heard this saying: " Nuthin' beats a failure but a try". I have distracted myself many times but I realize at this moment in earth's history, time is too precious. Thank you, Dan Vis for this "oldie but goodie" from the archive. I praise God for it.
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/23/18
Yes, a lot of causes for procrastination and I think fear is a common one. I love how you have turned that into something so beautiful and positive. Great testimony Diane! Thank you for sharing.
Posted by Diane Castanon on 05/23/18

I battle procrastination on a daily basis, but not because of to-do lists, or research. I procrastinate because of fear of failure. I was raised in a highly critical family that attended a highly critical church, and a critical church school. I’d rather turn in the opposite direction from responsibility and action.

What I find that works best for me, is every morning I give my will over to Jesus, and ask Him to work in me both to will and to do for HIS good pleasure (Philippians 2:13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.), and the Holy Spirit works in me to make it all about others instead of me (or my fears). II Timothy 1:7For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. is helping full as well as Deuteronomy 3:22Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God he shall fight for you..

God has changed my thinking from self-preservation, to embracing His desires, and oh what joy fills my being!

Posted by Dan Vis on 05/22/18
That's a good rule--to do the hardest part first! Probably the best approach if you can discipline yourself to do it. I definitely like the reward part! :) Thanks Sally!
Posted by Sally CH Lam on 05/22/18

The principle I live by is to do the most difficult things first and then reward myself after each accomplished step, something to look forward to.

Thanks, Dan, for sharing your experience!

Posted by Dan Vis on 05/21/18
I've found that to be true myself Carole. Big projects are turn out to not be so big if don't overthink things and just get going! Good post!
Posted by Carole Bliss on 05/21/18

So many times when I see a big project that I need to do, it makes me feel overwhelmed.
More often than not, once I get started, its not as huge as I once thought it to be. It all in the mindset.
great message.
Don't overthink things. Get going!

blessings,
Carole

Posted by Dan Vis on 05/21/18

Love your stories Mary Alice and Sally. Perfect illustrations of this point and how it has implications in lot's of areas.

You are right of course, Leslie, that lists and research have a place--and I definitely agree. We just need the Spirit's discernment to know when we're using those activities to avoid actual action!

And yes, I think you are right about making lists of things NOT to do! :) When I have a lot of writing to do, I close down my email, the FAST site, my phone, etc, and don't look at them until I get the project done. Amazing what a difference that can make!

Posted by Sally CH Lam on 05/21/18
Agree 100%! I learned a very important lesson while writing my dissertation—I was hesitant about writing the paper while hiding behind the notion that there is still more research to be done. I used to suffer from serious writer’s block before. Thank God for a discerning husband who told me to get going on my paper. The day before my defense, guess what I was doing? Yes more research!!! But thank God the dissertation had been completed.
Posted by Mary Alice Holz on 05/21/18
What a great reminder, Dan! Sometimes I get so caught up in studying about how to study the Bible, that I don't do any actual study!😕 This is a great reminder. Thank you.
Posted by Leslie Caza on 05/21/18
Lists can be motivating! Research can save you time in the long run! Ok, so now you know what I like to do! BUT there is a help to get to step 3: Time boxes! (and planning the next day in the evening you are in). So, in the evening jot down what you hope to accomplish the next day. . . even if it's research. . . and assign an allotted amount of time for that. By prioritizing your tasks you may realize that you can fit only 20 mins for a task and so may need to slowly chip away at it. When making a "to do" list also make a "not to do" list (like checking facebook 6 times a day!) Submit to God, seek His will, and pray for self control.
Posted by Dan Vis on 05/21/18
Appreciate your posts Lynn, Ann. I think the both highlight how important it is to move when the Holy Spirit says to move, and how the enemy definitely likes to distract us from action. I think in terms of devotions, he (the enemy) will do anything to keep us from coming away with something that leads to action. Because without action (application) there will be no real change in the life. Thanks for sharing ladies!
Posted by Lynn Badger on 05/21/18
I have to admit that I can find so many other "important" tasks that can keep me from moving forward. Satan will put anything in our mind to distract me.
Posted by Ann Lavenburg on 05/21/18
I find myself a mix of procrastination and "getting things done" without a lot of planning. Sometimes I just dive into something, only to realize that actually I have been thinking about it in the back of my mind for quite a while and sort of procrastinating and then something? (the Holy Spirit) prompts me to ACT! I believe it is good to plan but remain flexible because I may need to make a "rain date".   Actually I am a risk taker and I get myself into trouble at times because of it. Then I will make lists and forget where I put the list. It is kind of like just writing it down gets it into my memory and I forget the list AND usually a few things on the list. But at least I GOT PART OF IT DONE.   I need to reach a happy medium. Balance!!
Posted by Fiona van Wyk on 02/03/17
You're welcome, Musa Sibisi. It is our privilege to encourage one another on this pilgrim's Journey! :)
Posted by Musa Sibisi on 02/03/17
Dan, Fiona thank you.
Posted by Fiona van Wyk on 01/18/17

Naomi - My mom was a spiritual lady, and I learned much from her. I am blessed to have had such a mother. :) Often a thought she had expressed comes back to me, and it is still as fresh as when she said it, and I can learn from it today.

Thank you for your comment. :)

Posted by Dan Vis on 01/17/17
We are super busy these days. Too busy. And we do need lists to keep track of stuff. But on the other hand, Shanthi, the solution is often quite simple: move forward! :) Thanks for the comment.
Posted by Shanthi Solomon on 01/17/17

In this time that we are living in, we get too busy with many things. Some of those are not necessary but we want to be 'in'. There is also the challenge of balancing work - especially when we do not know how to say NO or when we cannot say NO, that leaves us with very little time to do our own things. At that point to do lists may help.

I like the fact that the answer is so simple - move forward.

Thank you Dan

Posted by Dan Vis on 01/17/17

I like what your mom said too, Fiona! It's kind of like riding a bike. It's really hard to stay balanced if you are not moving forward.

Debbie, nice! We've been trying to focus on resolutions, planning, action, etc this entire month. Glad you are putting things together!

Posted by Naomi Marandure on 01/17/17
Thank-you for the reminder Dan. And Fiona, that was a powerful message in your Mum's words!
Posted by Debbie King on 01/16/17
Action.   Success.   Momentum.   ASM. I love it!
Posted by Juliette on 01/16/17
My tendency is laziness so I guess I procrastinate by making to do lists. I need to find that balance between making the list, so I don't forget what needs doing, and then just doing it.
Posted by Carole Bliss on 01/16/17

All these messages are so good, we can learn from one another.
As a senior citizen, when I pray daily for His help, and the thoughts come, on what to do, I write them down, and then, it reminds me of being at work, I must get this done, mentality. Also, if I don't act quickly, it is forgotten, and I can't
afford to let that happen. Some things need to be done, now.

Carole

Posted by Fiona van Wyk on 01/16/17

I appreciate this post, Dan. There are many that pray, pray and ask God for guidance, but never actually get to do the things they talk about, and are planning to do. Just as Diana says. I heard in a sermon once, that some people think they are doing, when they are just talking. The actual doing just never arrives. This is something to think about. When I open my mouth and say I am planning to do such and such, I remind myself that I must do what I say I am going to do. Matthew 5:37But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil..
Lists are good, but only as they lead us to action. :)

My mother used to say, that God cannot direct a ship sitting in the harbour. Only as the ship moves out into the wind and sea, can God direct the ship. A stationary ship achieves nothing; a ship in the wind arrives somewhere!

Posted by Dan Vis on 01/16/17
Great suggestion Jason! I think I need to try doing exactly the same thing!
Posted by Jason Diehl on 01/16/17

I'm the king of lists and research, and everything else relating to procrastination. I'm generally not a lazy person, when I read the "risk aversion", gulp yeah that's probably my issue. I've been working on it more and more, really need to make some gains this year.

One idea I've been working on implementing is that even when I don't feel like doing anything, action breeds action. So I try to find activities that will not necessarily distract me from the task at hand but get the blood flowing, or just start the wheels rolling. For example, just go do some jumping jacks and/or some pushups. Maybe if the weather is nice instead of devotionals at my desk I go for a walk on the back 10 acres with my bible, maybe jog back to get the blood pumping.

Some kind of physical exercise, is something I'm happy to stop doing (LOL) so it doesn't become too much of a procrastination, but it also gets the blood flowing, gets the mind working. It even helps put your head into a right brain mode of spatial or creative thinking which helps you get through stumbling blocks. But overall I think it's a similar mentality of "Do Something".

I've only just started trying to do this so we will see how it works out, but this article definitely helps me define the issue and the need.

Posted by Dan Vis on 01/16/17

Great posts everyone!

John, appreciate the balance there. It really is about character development. I tend to lean more towards the planning and preparing stage. My wife much more toward the action spectrum. Thank God He brough us together!

Stephen, such a powerful testimony. Thank you for sharing that. A daily do list does make a huge difference!

Appreciate your posts Diana, Lynne, and Joyce as well. It's good to see how the Lord is working in all our lives to make us more effective in life. And yes, I love II Corinthians 8:11Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.. What a powerful verse! :)

Posted by Joyce Augustinis on 01/16/17
I agree to just start doing moves you forward faster. I also have noticed that starting is difficult because I naturally want to put things off but recently I have been just starting whether I'm in the mood or not and I have had some good results. II Corinthians 8:11Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. - now therefore perform the doing of it that as there was a readiness to will so there may be a performance also out of that which you have.
Posted by Lynne on 01/16/17
Thank you! Such simple advice. Just take that first small step and watch the Lord do the rest! I had been in the field of procrastination for far to long! The first step begins today. Again thank you!
Posted by Stephen Gutierrez on 01/16/17
Personally, my mind moves really quickly, and with all of the responsibilities I have, I have learned to do number one as I go day to day, and gen I have scheduled (daily) a time of action. Because if I don't write them down right away, I forget them, and waste a lot of time trying to figure them out. Plus I used to have a huge burden throughout the day before I started writing them down.. because I would rely on my memory, which would let me down almost 100% of the time. Now, I have peace of mind, knowing that my list is waiting for me to act on, instead of me constantly worrying, "am I going to remember to do this?!?" God is good, and He has blessed us with beautiful minds, so now that my "to do list clutter" is gone, I can focus on remember other things, like His word.
Posted by John Gilmore on 01/16/17
By nature, some are more hesitant and others more impulsive. May God help us to see His direction and move in His timing.
Posted by Diana Sexton on 01/16/17
I heard in a sermon once that people use 'waiting on God' to avoid action. When all the information that is available about a situation and God's guidance is earnestly prayed for, we are meant to move forward with the information we have. God is expecting a decision to be made and a step in faith taken. It has helped me face some difficult decisions over the years. Not that I am quick to jump into it but I do eventually make a decision and ask God to show me quickly if it is wrong. He has never let me down.

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