Throughout any given day, we hear a wide variety of them. "My dog ate my homework." "I ran out of time." "I thought someone else would do it." "I didn't feel well last night." "The assignment stressed me out."
If we are honest with ourselves, not only have we heard a plethora of excuses but we have also given more than our fair share. Personally, I become weary hearing excuses from my students and colleagues. The situation becomes worse when the presented excuse is always the same.
Some excuses are legitimate and valid explanations of why something did not get done or why the person is unable to fulfill a request. Sadly, I think we often fall into a routine with our excuses rather than looking at the situation objectively. Will completing the task benefit me or the group I serve in some way? Am I truly unable to fulfill the task or merely unwilling to make personal adjustments to be involved? Can a minor change on my part eliminate the source of the conflict?
It is important to realize that the only ones who can determine if an excuse is legitimate or not are the person giving the excuse and the Heavenly Father. For most of us, self-examination is not a process we enjoy and tend to avoid at all costs. There are observable symptoms that can alert us to the need to examine our motives and the validity of our excuses.
At the top of the list is FEAR. Are you avoiding something because of fear? Fear comes in many guises....fear of the unknown, imagined fears, fear of failure, and fear of change are some of the most common. Whatever its guise, fear does not belong in the life of the Child of God. II Timothy 1:7 tells us that God has not given us a spirit of fear. Since fear is not from God, it is not something we want to give dominion in our lives at any time.
Following quickly on the heels of fear is DEFENSIVENESS. Call out someone's excuse -- including your own -- and you will quickly get an earful about how you don't really understand the situation. Personally, I have found that my own defense mechanisms are generally disguising the fact that I am painfully aware of the faulty logic in my excuse that I don't want anyone else to discover.
Are excuses always bad? Certainly not. They are times that we simply cannot be involved and want to explain. These explanations are courteous and a sign of maturity. However, I think we often provide excuses to hide from the reality of why we aren't willing to work -- especially when we are continuously referring to the same excuse over and over again. I challenge you to listen to the excuses you give in various situations in the coming days. Pay attention to the number of excuses and if there are recurring themes; you may be surprised by the insight you gain from honestly investigating the validity and source of the excuses.