I recently signed up for a six-week community activity program. People can choose to join a team or register as an individual. The goal is to get Canadians to be more physically active. Participants can choose whatever activities they like so long as they commit to the minimum number of recommended hours of physical activity per week.
I sent an e-invite to an acquaintance from church. She declined. I’m not upset that she declined but the reasons this person gave for not wanting to participate were, in my opinion, excuse making. We all make excuses about something in our life: exercise, healthy eating, hours and quality of sleep, over or lack of commitment, etc. But where I draw the line with excuse making is when people want something they are not willing to work for.
If you want to be fit, you need to exercise. If you want to be a doctor, you need to attend medical school. If you want to be a hero, you need to do something extraordinary. If you want to be a winner you must compete in a competition. Some things are non-negotiable.
If you are not careful, excuses can become a source of pride and stubbornness. You eventually stubbornly refuse to do what is required and you pridefully convince yourself that you, unlike the others, don’t have to do what is necessary.
Some simple, yet still challenging ways to stop making excuses and accomplish and achieve what you need:
State verbally and in writing what you want.
e.g. I want to become an accountant.
State verbally and in writing what you need to do. What is it that must be done? These are non-negotiables.
I must attend school and training sessions because it is the only option for becoming a certified accountant. I have to pay for these classes, pass all of the mandatory courses and exams. I will them need to apply for jobs.
State verbally and in writing what will likely happen when you do all that is required, mandatory, and non-negotiable.
I will have the mandatory requirements for becoming a certified accountant and can apply for jobs as an accountant.
I get people to do this exercise so they understand that mandatory and necessary processes are not our enemies. They are not something to be dreaded or hated. There are people who have a tendency to misapply the words have to, need to, and mandatory to things that are not; and as a result they begin to see these words as something automatically bad.
None of us like being “told what to do”, but every single day you do something because you have been told to do so, are required to do so, or have been forced to do so. What might some of these things be: stopping at a red light, feeding your children, paying your employees, not punching someone in the face even though you really feel like doing so.
Have to, need to, must, and mandatory can be words of freedom and bring accomplishment to our lives when we learn to adhere to them in proper circumstances. Don’t allow your dreams or goals to remain unaccomplished in your life because you couldn’t bring yourself to do what was non-negotiable.
Proverbs 18:12 “Before destruction one’s heart is haughty, but humility goes before honor.”
Proverbs 11:2 “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.”
QUESTIONS and REFLECTIONS:
How do you feel about the words “have to”, “need to”, “must”, and “mandatory”? Are there any emotions that you attach to these words?
What is your usual response and thoughts when you are told to do something you don’t want to do?
Take some time to meditate on a verse of your choice regarding stubbornness or pride. Ask God to reveal to you any area where instances of pride and stubbornness might be preventing you from doing things in your life that are necessary.
When doing so, remember to be gentle with yourself and remember that God reveals the wrongs in our lives to correct them and change them. He does so from his love, mercy, compassion, and kindness towards us.