Excuses are funny, because we notice them more from others than from ourselves. Why is it important to talk about excuses? Because excuses may be hindering you more than you could ever know.
We all have an excuses for something somewhere in our life.
Hopefully you will be able to track down where you’re relying on excuses, and see how to change that area of your life. And of course then you’ll be able to help your kids do the same.
There’s No Such Thing as a Good Excuse
“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’”Luke 14:18-20
What truly separates the unsuccessful from the successful? Excuses. Successful people fail
just as much more than unsuccessful people because they are determined. They know how to get back up and try again, perhaps in a different way, but…again. Failure doesn’t slow them down, it motivates them. Unsuccessful people like to make excuses and explain why they can’t do it. Successful people either do it or they try again until they do it.
We all have an excuse. If we really want to devote our mind and energy to it, we will always be able to think of a reason why we can’t do something. Moses watched God do amazing things that were only possible with God, yet he still made excuses when God asked him to speak to Pharaoh:
“But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.”Exodus 4:10-14
Excuses have been around since long before Moses lived. In fact, the first thing Adam did after eating the forbidden fruit was give an excuse as to why it was Eve’s fault, and Eve explained why it was the serpent’s fault. (Genesis 3) Excuses are often disguised as negative thinking or “reasons” instead of what they actually are…useless excuses.
We always like to think our situation is different. It’s not. Overcome the excuses you devise and follow through with your dreams. If we all let excuses stop us from achieving what we were meant for, God’s work would be left undone. It doesn’t matter how legitimate the excuse is, they help nothing and hold us back from everything.
We like to think of our excuses as “valid reasons”, but the fact is, we are still forming excuses and we get zero benefit from them, even if you can validate them. If you feel like you have valid reasons instead of excuses, consider this…
Life Without Limbs
You’ve probably heard of Nick Vujicic, or noticed his books around pretty much everywhere that sells books…
Nick is a Christian evangelist and speaker, born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of all four limbs, hence the name of his company: Life Without Limbs Inc.. Do you think Nick has a few good, legitimate excuses for why he can’t do some things? Sure, he could come up with more excuses than you or I could, based on the situation he was dealt. But does he? Absolutely not. That’s his entire purpose behind his motivational speaking and teaching.
As humans, we have a tendency to compare our weaknesses to other people’s strengths. What good is that? How does that improve our situation? Here’s what Nick says about comparing ourselves to others, especially our sufferings (which is where excuses usually come from):
“We can’t, and we should not, compare sufferings. We come together as a family of God, hand in hand. And then together coming and standing upon the promises of God, knowing that no matter who you are, no matter what you’re going through, that God knows it, He is with you, He is going to pull you through.”
God can and will pull us through anything, but it’s easy to forget that when we are in the moment of adversity. We also tend to dwell on the past. Excuses come from past experiences, they don’t come from the future, that’s why Nick says:
Don’t put your life on hold so that you can dwell on the unfairness of past hurts.
If a man with tetra-amelia syndrome doesn’t dwell on the past and what life has given him, why should we? Excuses will only hold you back from anything and everything. There really is no such thing as a good excuse. Let’s forget about excuses, no matter how bad it may seem, and focus on what we can change and what we can do. As Nick puts it…
“Have you ever felt trapped in circumstances, then discovered that the only trap was your own lack of vision, lack of courage, or failure to see that you had better options?”
It’s easy to see why we can’t do things. We like to give other people the benefit of the doubt, while we sit back and think “I could never do that”, but the truth is, the one who did it has thought, at some point, that they couldn’t.
Anyone who has accomplished something amazing went through a point where they felt like they weren’t going to be able to do it. Trust me on this – it’s human nature.
The Difference Between Excuses and Seasons
Before we go on, I want to address seasons of life. Being single is a season. Being newly married is a season. Having young children, older children and an empty nest are all seasons of life. With seasons come different opportunities and limitations. This is why we must always mold generic advice to the season we are in, but we shouldn’t use our season as an excuse.
For example, if you’re reading a book about having an extensive morning routine (like The Miracle Morning), you may feel overwhelmed when you think about that kind of commitment, especially if you have several young children.
Many days you may get to bed late and you may be awakened by a crying baby before you planned to start the day. You simply have to understand the season you’re in and accept it. Soccer practice, piano lessons and PTA meetings may take the time you had when you were single to read more books or take online courses. That’s not an excuse as to why you can’t do it, it’s a season you’re in, but it can easily turn into an excuse if you let it.
If you’re involved and spending time with your children, you’re succeeding in life at this moment. Your focus should be on your family. You may have dreams of building a huge business, but that isn’t your main focus right now.
Success must be measured based on where you’re at, where you were and where you want to go. Success doesn’t have to mean money, fame or a big business. Do you have time to build a business on the side? Probably. Do you have as much extra time as you did when you were single? I doubt it.
But you can do the most you can do with where you’re at right now and that’s what you should be doing.
No Test, No Testimony
“No test, no testimony” may sound like a cheesy bumper sticker, but it’s true: the most inspiring testimonies have been a result of the most difficult tests. People have built huge businesses and served God in outstanding ways with disabilities, financial struggles or other obstacles.
Can you do the same? Absolutely. But you’ve got to stop making excuses and take responsibility for your life. We can all do huge things if we accept where we’re at and press on toward the goal. Look at what Paul says in his letter to the Philippians. He addresses the issue of not being perfect and not being in the best situation, but the best time to start pressing forward is today. This goes for your relationship with Jesus and achieving the goals you want to achieve. Here’s how Paul put it:
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.”Philippians 3:12-16
How powerful is that? Did you get that message? We are to keep pressing toward the goal.
Don’t let your situation define you and don’t let excuses get in your way. Anytime we continue to use an excuse, we validate it more and more. Let’s stop validating our excuses and start taking action on our goals and in our life.
Yes, You Can Do It
Whatever you want to do in life, you can do it, but that’s the thing…you have to actually do it.
Nothing will hold you back if you want to do something big unless you let it. What is it that you ultimately want? What’s your end goal? An international ministry? Enough money to fund mission trips all over the world or feed millions of hungry people? A successful business or organization that helps millions of people?
What is it? And can you do it? Of course…
- Can you do it if you have a physical handicap? Nick Vujicic proved you can.
- Can you do it if you have a speech disorder? Moses proved you can.
- Can you do it if you have a reading disorder? Albert Einstein, Richard Branson, Jim Carrey and countless others who had dyslexia proved you can.1
- Can you do it if you’re a single parent? Angela Benton, founder and CEO of NewME, has accelerated over 300 startups and helped them raise over $17 million in funding, despite being a single mom since she was 16.2
- Can you do it if you have a full house? Ask the Duggars.3 My wife and I have four children and haven’t sacrificed a thing (including time with them). You can also look to many successful politicians, as they seem to love big families.
- Can you do it if you have failed before? Thomas Edison failed at creating the light bulb more than 1,000 times before he succeeded, Stephen King’s first novel was rejected 30 times before he went on to sell millions of books, and Peter denied Jesus three times before going on to do amazing work as an apostle and even write part of the New Testament.
- Can you do it without God? Sure, plenty of people have proved it’s possible to have worldly success without God, but why would you? There are plenty of people who feel like they’ve achieved success without God, but that really depends on their definition of success. Life is so much more difficult without God. It’s not easy being a Christian, in fact, it’s one of the most difficult things I’ve done and continue to do on a daily basis, but there is no better life in the world. Most things that are worth anything are not easy and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is worth everything.
You don’t need God to have money or business success; however, if you truly want to be successful, you’re only going to find that in Christ…
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”Romans 8:5-7
What does success mean to you? Are your goals in line with your view of success? If or once they are, ask yourself this question:
What’s stopping you from succeeding?
Spend no time on excuses. Devote everything to your vision of success. Success may mean a strong relationship with Jesus and a happy family. Success to you could also mean a gigantic ministry. Whatever it is, make sure your goals line up with your idea of success and make sure your idea of success lines up with God’s Word.
If you think you’re failing, you might just be too busy making excuses to see the success you do have and the success you’re cable of achieving.
So what now? Well it’s time to take action, of course. Reading about being successful is great, but you must put a plan into action if you want to actually make it happen.
Take Action: 30 Day Challenge
This challenge is simple. Go 30 days without making a single excuse. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. (Matthew 5:37 4) It won’t be easy. You may surprise yourself at how many excuses you make and how often.
I’m going to do the same challenge. For a bonus, you could add “no complaining” to your challenge. Excuses and complaints are unnecessary. They steal your potential and rob you of the success you could otherwise have.
Further Bible Study
Further Book Reading
- The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
- No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy
- The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
- The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
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- Saffert, J. (2014, September 29). NewME Accelerator Founder and CEO Angela Benton. The Everygirl.
- The Duggars Official Website
- “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37