When asked to share the most unusual excuses employees gave for missing work, employers offered the following real-life examples: Employee said a chicken attacked his mom. Employee’s finger was stuck in a bowling ball. Employee had a hair transplant gone bad. Employee fell asleep at his desk while working and hit his head, causing a neck injury. Employee had to mow the lawn to avoid a lawsuit from the home owner’s association. Employee called in the day after Thanksgiving because she burned her mouth on a pumpkin pie. Employee was in a boat on Lake Erie and ran out of gas and the coast guard towed him to the Canadian side.
It’s easy to come up with reasons why we can’t be happy, why we can’t be the person we know we can be or ought to be or want to be. Excuses give us permission to settle for less than God’s best, for less than our best. As long as you’re making excuses you’ll justify staying where you are.
The boss is rude. The traffic is bad. I was betrayed. I lost a loved one.
It’s easy to find an excuse. I can’t lose weight – my metabolism is slow. Everybody in my family has this addiction. It’s in my genes.
Maybe, but you have the power to set a new standard.
And it may be a valid excuse but the truth is we have to draw a line in the sand some time. Either we draw the line in the sand some day or the reason becomes an excuse.
And some day the excuse grows into a crutch. My friends are more talented or smarter or better looking or more athletic or happier or more outgoing—so I will hold to this inferiority crutch. Some people spend their whole life on crutches. Quit comparing yourself and run your own race.
That’s what Wilma did. She was born prematurely in 1940, the 20th of 22 children. She contracted infantile polio and was told she’d never walk again. She couldn’t play with the other kids. She wore a brace until she was nine years old, which by that time had caused her foot to twist.
But she had something even more powerful than polio. Wilma had a no excuses mentality.
Doctor made her a special leg brace and she learned to walk. She took off the brace and practiced walking without her parent’s knowledge. Then she started to run.
At 16 Wilma qualified for the Olympics in 1956 and in 1960 became an Olympic gold medalist in three races. Wilma Rudolph was called the world’s fastest woman.
That’s what happens when you don’t let excuses become a crutch. Refuse to live angry, upset, with a chip on your shoulder. If you’ll get rid of the excuses you will find God has a whole new life just sitting there waiting for you to claim.
The thing is we tell ourselves that the crutch is the only way we can live. We’d rather lean on it than on the Lord. We see no future where it isn’t dictating our life. We don’t believe God can provide a tomorrow that doesn’t have our crutch as the center piece in it.
That’s no way to be. That’s a belief system not worthy of you or God your Creator or Christ your Savior or the Spirit who strengthens you in your daily walk.
Throw out that dirty rotten crutch. Go ahead, limp for a while. You’ll get stronger. If you fall you can get back up. Lean on prayer. Hold on to faith. Pick yourself up with hope.
And that’s the problem with the third servant in Jesus’ parable. He’s unwilling to take a risk for his master. Instead he uses his fear as an excuse to bury his talent. In fact, he actually tries to blame the master for why he did what he did. He uses him as his excuse not to take what was given him and do something positive with it. Instead he basically dumped dirt on top of it, buried it in the ground.
The servant uses what cannot be an excuse as the excuse, what is in fact unacceptable to use as an excuse—the master himself. And this is what makes the master furious.
It’s amazing what people will use as the “reason” for why they’re like they are or where they are in life or where they aren’t. I’ve actually heard someone blame her parents for her disastrous stock picks because they didn’t teach her how to pick better companies.
What’s a bit surprising is that making excuses isn’t one of the seven or eight deadly sins. It’s so much part of the fabric of our character that it’s mentioned as the first reaction after Adam and Eve ate the fruit. Actually, it happened twice within the first couple of moments when Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.
Jesus faced something like this one time. Jesus met a man blind since birth. Those around them asked Jesus whose fault it was that he was blind. They wanted to know who was to blame for this.
Of course, it comes down to only three choices: the favorite—the man himself, the next favorite—his parents, and finally—God. They wanted someone to blame. They wanted excuses.
What did Jesus say: He said it’s nobody’s fault.
It’s nobody’s fault. Can you say that out loud? “It’s nobody’s fault.”
Free yourself with It’s Nobody’s Fault. Stop looking for the criminal, the perpetrator. Stop seeing yourself as the victim. Unstick yourself from still holding onto someone or something as your excuse.
Free yourself to look at your own life, your own person, and then take the hand you’ve been dealt and make the most of it. Take responsibility for your stuff.
If you want to be the person who takes responsibility and gets what God has for you, it could all come down to the stories you tell yourself. The fact is there really are just two stories. In one story you’ve got control. In the other you’ve got excuses.
If you focus on the story in which you can’t control what’s going on, you’ll end up with excuses for why you couldn’t do what you wanted to do. But if you focus on the story in which you are in control of choices and don’t need excuses, you will move toward doing what you wish and hope for.
The two stories might sound like this: If you work too much and don’t have time for leisure and fun, do you tell yourself that everyone else demands too much from you? Or, do you tell yourself you don’t prioritize your time well enough?
If you don’t have enough money for the life you want, do you tell yourself your job just doesn’t pay enough? Or, do you tell yourself that you’re not communicating your value well enough or that it’s time to be committed to finding a path to better work?
What about your relationship with your spouse, partner, family? With God? With yourself? Which story are you telling?
You see, when you’re keeping control of your destiny, you’re motivated to make it the best one possible. And when you’re motivated, you work better, smarter, and harder. And when you do that, good things happen. God can bless someone who has her feet pointing forward.
James Robertson has been offered a new car, multiple times, by complete strangers. Someone offered to chauffeur him around each day. Others have offered to pay the insurance bill for whatever new car he ends up with.
Why on Earth is this generosity coming to him? Because The Detroit Free Press wrote an article about him. And why did they do that? Because he walks to work every day. Not that impressive, you say? I haven’t mentioned how far his foot-powered commute is: 21 miles.
James is loyal to his job. That’s why, when his car broke down and Detroit buses stopped serving his route, he woke up one morning and just started walking. And then he kept doing it.
“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.” That’s what James’ dad told him. I guess it stuck. When people heard about his daily marathon commute, people across the country jumped at the opportunity to help.
James kept believing in living above the situation. He kept control of his destiny and direction—and then got the help our faith tells us is coming when we keep our faith.
The truth is we can’t let a situation or a person affect us so much that we’re knocked off our own path. You can’t find peace and joy if you’re dwelling on what has happened or what someone else has done or hasn’t said.
Can you imagine if God reacted every time someone did something wrong or said something rude or nasty or inappropriate. The Lord couldn’t get any of his work done. Where would the Lord’s will for good happen if everyone else’s stuff was setting the agenda?
Stop letting others set your emotional agenda. Don’t let others get inside your will and turn you around.
After all, what is more important: Living from finger-pointing or living toward your purpose? The pain of letting go of something is less than the pain of missing your purpose.
Be serious about moving past excuses. Have the attitude of no more excuses. Be bigger than what’s happened.
Drop the crutch, discard the excuse. Let the Lord walk you through that new door, that better you, that brighter tomorrow, that more faithful life.
Can the church say Amen?