You can have excuses, or you can have results. But you can’t have both.”
I’m not sure where I first heard that quote, but it needs to circulate more widely these days. We live in the era of excuses. Most, if not all, of us succumb to its temptation at some time or another.
Teams would be undefeated if not for partial referees, adverse conditions, or cheating opponents.
Pastors would be more successful if their church members would fall in line.
Workers would do a better job of their bosses were nicer and co-workers not so incompetent.
You get the picture. Our shortcoming are always the result of someone else or something less than perfect. It’s NEVER us.
The problem with excuses is not whether or not they are legitimate. The problem is that they prevent us from ever improving. If the problem is always outside of us, then why would we ever evaluate ourselves.
Encouragement to Avoid Excuses
God encourages self-examination. Consider the following verses.
“When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies.” – Psalm 119:59
“Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord.” – Lamentations 3:40
“Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Consider your ways.’” Haggai 1:5
“But let each one test his own work…” – Galatians 6:4
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith…” – 2 Corinthians 13:5
Clearly, God expects us to take a look at our own hearts rather than making excuses.
Moving On From Excuses
Let me offer you a challenge that I believe will help change your habits from excuses to responsibility.
- NEVER settle for mediocrity. Excuses give us permission to remain where we are. If our growth and success depends on others who are not cooperating, why expect anything more of ourselves? Regardless of what others around you do, and in spite of your circumstances, challenge yourself to improve.
- Strive for PROGRESS rather than PERFECTION. None of us are perfect. We expect others to be, but we recognize we will never be. When we come short of perfections, excuses give us a reason to stop trying. When we focus instead on PROGRESS, we recognize that people nor circumstances can prevent us from moving forward.
- Own your setbacks. Be honest enough to admit when you are your own worst enemy. Yes, referees make bad calls. But they probably make a lower percentage of mistakes than you. When we fail to own our mistakes, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to improve. When we move from excuses to responsibility, we reclaim our destiny from others.
- Determine intentional and specific steps FORWARD. Excuses look back at “what if” and “if only.” Excuses live in the past. Instead, why not determine and intentional path forward to a better future? Instead of re-actively focusing on what others have done wrong, why not proactively choose a successful response?
- Follow-through. A popular adage reminds us: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” In other words, intending and doing are two different animals. Once you decide on your steps forward, TAKE THEM. And make yourself accountable to someone for them. Let someone hold you accountable to take control of your future.
Some questions for your thoughts
- What excuses have you made lately for not achieving your goals?
- How would focusing on progress rather than perfection make life different for you?
- What ONE area of your life do you want to improve beginning TODAY?
- What is the first specific and intentional step you will take TODAY to move from excuses to responsibility?