My friend, Eliza, always told me that an excuse is the skin off a lie. I’ve also heard others say that an excuse is the reason of truth, wrapped in a lie. Either way, excuses don’t hold water in the real world.
We all make them, though. I know that I do.
“I can’t reach it. I’m too short.”
“I can’t tell them. They won’t listen to a woman.”
“I can’t apply for that job. There are other people more qualified.”
If you make enough excuses, you can positively paralyze yourself.
Seems to me that there are two reasons that I make excuses. Sometimes, I just don’t want to do something. I’m too lazy or tired or I don’t think it’s worth my time. But most of the time, I make excuses because I’m scared of something. In an ironic twist, though, if I really want to do something, I don’t let my fears hold me back.
In Chapter 24 of The Hole in Our Gospel, Rich Stearns tells the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. While I love this story, my mind kept wandering back to Jeremiah.
In Jeremiah 1, God speaks to the young prophet and says, “Listen, I created you to go into the world and give people my messages.” And immediately, Jeremiah comes up with an excuse.
“Lord, they won’t listen to me! I’m just a kid!”
But God doesn’t accept that excuse. He says, “Listen, I’m going to give you the words and everything else you need. Don’t be scared, because I’m going to protect you. And don’t you dare say you’re too young! Just go do what I made you to do!”
Similarly, when God tells Moses to go to Pharoah and plead for the release of the Jews, Moses makes excuses. God takes away his excuses and gives him everything he needs to do the job—beginning with the staff in his hand.
I love that this chapter focuses on living out your purpose using what’s already in your hand. Only in stories is it fun to have to go on a quest to find the weapons to win the battle. In real life, I’d rather be a MacGyver—taking whatever’s in my pocket and making life happen.
For months now, we’ve been talking about taking love and hope and healing to the world. We may think that we aren’t able because we don’t have money or talent or training. But all we really need is what’s in our hands.
Rich Stearns said two things that really stood out to me in this chapter:
“God has created each of us with a unique contribution to make to our world and our times. No other person has our same abilities, motivations, network of friends and relationships, perspectives, ideas, or experiences. When we, like misplaced puzzle pieces, fail to show up, the overall picture is diminished.” (p. 251)
“God never asks us to give what we do not have…But he cannot use what we will not give.” (p. 253)
God has given me something to contribute. What is it? Will I make excuses or will I give it?
This post is part of our regularly scheduled Wednesday discussion about Richard Stearns’ book, The Hole in Our Gospel. This week’s discussion is about Chapter 24—How Many Loaves Do You Have? If you’ve written a response to the chapter, please visit my co-facilitator Jason Stasyszen’s site Connecting to Impact to link up. I invite you and encourage you to jump into the discussion whether you’ve read the chapter or not. Your thoughts are important to us!