Your future self is smarter than your present self

I was getting together with a worship leader. He was picking up dinner for us to eat at the church.

“What should I get for you,” he asked.

It was about 8:05 AM. “Get me a grilled chicken salad.” See I have this new thing that I'm doing. It’s a game where I order last and order the healthiest of anybody else because… I'm gonna lose weight, dang it! if for no other reason than my T-shirt sleeves are riding up and that's got to stop.

But back to my story. So I go about my day, and the closer we get to our meeting in the evening, the more I want to change my order to a cheesesteak. I'm not even kidding. This really happened. I had to fight texting him to change my order.

And I already know what's the studies say: your “future self” makes better choices then your “in the moment self.”

We prioritize the present over the future. It's like the way we want a bass player for this Sunday. So, we let them play even though they won’t show up for the midweek rehearsal. We address a short-term urge rather than the long-term need of building a team culture that values a midweek rehearsal.

It’s why we say we’ll go to the gym… tomorrow. (And Nike reminds us that yesterday we said tomorrow.) 

You can learn more about the psychology behind this in a fascinating podcast called Choiceology. 

So how can we combat this in our worship ministry?

Picking Songs

Plan a whole month of songs at one time. The effect of “future planning” rather than planning for this Sunday allows you to make better choices because you’re not just “in the moment.” And don’t listen to the voice that worries you no longer are being Spirit led. God foreknew you before the foundation of the world, so there’s that precedent. So basically, you can predestine your songs. (LOL)


“I’ll just say what comes to me in the moment” or “I’ll just repeat the key phrase of the song in a prayer.” Please don’t. On Saturday, imagine yourself in that moment in the worship service and consider what would be helpful for your congregation. Pre-plan your menu…I mean, transition. You don’t have to read it, but writing it out beforehand will help you be more effective in the moment.

Team Growth

You’re driving to rehearsal and you wonder what nugget or email you can read to your team to help them grow. What if you stopped to think about what their most pressing needs are and then developed a simple plan to feed that need this year? Shoot, you could take them through Jon Nicol’s Worship Workshop or Dan Wilt’s Essentials in Worship courses. There are lots of great options.


You know that bass player you almost asked to be on the team, despite your better judgement? What if you rather write out what your team would look like once it’s “full” - this could be one of each role or four complete teams. Or it could be a micro-goal like “four singers that can harmonize by ear.” Then let your team know what you’re shooting for and begin praying together for God to provide. Just wait and see what happens when you begin to do this together!

So where do you keep making “unhealthy” choices? Take 30 minutes to think about that area and put a simple plan together like my “order last and healthiest” game.

I bet 2019 is going to be a breakthrough year!