Stop Making Excuses. Start Making Plans

The health of your “soul” does not necessarily need to be connected to a religious context. I’ve written before about the five aspects of your life you should get a handle on, especially when it comes to setting goals. One of those aspects is “Spiritual” and can mean everything from making your piece with God, removing stress from your life, or making amends with a detached family member.

I originally wrote the piece below for “Boundless,” a youth Christian ministry. It was an expanded version of a shorter blog post I wrote last year, “This is Something I Can Do.”

Regardless of your beliefs or religious convictions or non-convictions, I think everyone can find something to take away from the piece below. Many people who don’t consider themselves to be religious, do consider themselves to be spiritual. And many people who don’t consider themselves even to be spiritual, practice techniques to improve their mind their body, and their psyche.

When it comes to setting goals or challenging ourselves, don’t be discouraged when there’s something you think is beyond your ability. Give it a try. Stop making excuses and start making plans. You may just find you’re more capable than you thought.

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Sometimes it’s easier to make excuses why we can’t do something than it is to make plans on how to do it. When it comes to our faith, how often do we find reasons not to take part in outreach because we think it’s something beyond our skill set?

  • “I’m too shy to witness door-to-door. I’ll let someone else do it.”
  • “I don’t speak well enough to teach a Sunday school class; that would be best left to another person.”
  • 
“I don’t know the first thing about organizing an event. I’d only get in the way.”

It’s perfectly alright to realize we have different talents that all play a role in spreading God’s message (1 Corinthians 12:14-22). But what if you had the potential to accomplish even greater things than you thought possible? What if you just needed a push to make you realize you can have (and succeed at) many different skills to serve the Lord?

“This is something I can do.”

After finishing up lunch with one of my company’s elderly donors, I knew he had trouble getting around, so I offered to go with him to the airport. On the ride he explained he was blind in one eye, his hearing was suspect, and he laughed, “The legs could go any moment. That’s why I try not to spend too much time sitting down. I never know if I’ll be able to stand back up.”

He asked about my life, and I shared the most exciting parts. I told him about trekking across mountains and starting a new business. But surprisingly, whenever I glossed over something minor he asked for details. I didn’t understand. Why did he want to know how heavy the boxes I had to lift were? Why did he care how many letters I had to stamp?

The taxi pulled up to the curb and began to pay the driver. My friend waved me off. “No, don’t worry. I’ve got it,” I said, to which I was met with a stern look and a much stronger wave of his hand. “Steve,” he said, “this is something I can do.” I didn’t argue any further. I let him pay and helped him out of the car. We both knew what he’d meant.

As an able-bodied 20-something, I could take on virtually any task without a second thought, while this man was never going to be able to climb mountains, carry boxes or stamp letters. But this man had money and the means to support those who didn’t. He couldn’t do much, but he could do something. “This is something I can do,” he said. I’ve never forgotten that.

God has given us the spiritual strength to accomplish tremendous feats (Matthew 17:20). How often do we let self-imposed barriers seep into our faith and limit the things we think we are capable of?

The Bible is filled with those who tried to make excuses, while God was making plans.

When God commanded Moses to travel back to Egypt and confront Pharaoh, what was Moses’ response? An excuse. “I am not eloquent … but I am slow of speech and of tongue’” (Exodus 4:10). Moses warned he had a problem making speeches and didn’t think he’d be the best fit. God wanted results, not excuses, so he sent Moses anyway.

When God told Jonah to preach to Nineveh, Jonah thought he knew what was best instead (Jonah 1:3). Many days later and stinking of salt and seaweed, Jonah decided God knew what He was talking about after all. Imagine having a conversation with the Creator of the universe and being told He’s chosen you to accomplish His task — and then making an excuse why you supposedly “can’t.”

Now realize this isn’t hypothetical. God’s already had this conversation with you. He’s told you (and all of us), “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). He’s given us knowledge from Scripture to preach that Gospel and accomplish the tasks He’s set out for us.

“This is something I can do” were the words of an elderly man who could barely see, hear or walk. But he wasn’t going to let that stop him from using every resource he had to support a cause he valued. The next time you think you “can’t” do something, realize there may just be an opportunity for you to leave your comfort zone and accomplish something even greater.

Are there times you’ve caught yourself second guessing a goal because you didn’t think you were capable of achieving it? Or is there something you have a passion for that you’d like to take part in but are apprehensive about taking the initiative to attempt?

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