5 practical steps for overcoming excuses…
I’m going to be vulnerable with you. The launch of my newsletter, Mint., felt like a really big day for me. I was terrified and exhilarated when I hit send. Because this is my thing. The thing I have always wanted to do, but never had the courage to do. The thing I did as a little kid for fun…yes I wrote for fun. The thing I thought God had given me as a gift, but was too scared I’d fail to even pick up a pen.
Tuesday felt like a milestone. I am grateful for all God has done in my life over the last 6 months to get me to the place where I could hit the “publish” button. Because for far too many years, I couldn’t.
You guys, I made all.the.excuses. For as long as I can remember.
I’m too busy.
I’m too tired.
I’m too sick.
I’m too stressed.
I’m not qualified.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all 5 of those things sometimes. But they aren’t the real reason that I wasn’t writing. They were a surface level excuse, a cover-up for the real reason I didn’t want to write. The truth is that I have a GIANT fear of failure. I am held captive by it; prisoner to the what if chains…What if I’m not good enough? What if no one reads my blog? What if my book never gets published? What if people laugh at my dream?
I was paralyzed. Facing all those what if fears seemed way too hard, and so I made excuses instead, because that was easier. The dictionary defines excuses as an attempt to lessen blame, or to defend or justify one’s actions. And that’s exactly what I did. Instead of putting in the work, the courage, and the determination to face it, I justified my fear.
I think most excuses are just that: an attempt to justify our fear or our pride. If you think about it, most excuses boil down to those two things. Here’s what I have learned: being held captive by fear or by pride never leads anywhere good.
Six months ago, I was confronted about my use of excuses by 2 things: a proverb and a good friend. While doing devos, I read Proverbs 22:13 which says, “The lazy person claims, ‘there’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed.” As soon as I read it, I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Lazy. That word was hard to swallow. I do not like to be called lazy. Lazy means unwilling to do the work. But I was just like the lazy person in the proverb – my fear of what might happen prevented me from taking any action.
Just like the lion was the excuse in the proverb, I always had a “lion” that excused me from doing the hard work of facing my fear. There’s a lion out there…IF I go outside I might be killed = There’s a chance I might be humiliated IF I start writing and fail.
For me, the lion is fear. For others, it’s pride. Those held captive by pride make excuses because they have a heart hardened by conceit and self-sufficiency; they want it their way, not God’s way. They turn a blind eye to the changes they need to make, figuring they are good enough already.
Just like the excuses that cover them, both pride and fear are a dead end.
Just a few days after reading the proverb, I had dinner with a good friend, the kind you can tell the real stuff too and they don’t judge you. Thank you Jesus for those kind of friends! I was explaining to her my desire to write but how I just felt like it wasn’t good timing (anyone smell an excuse?). Then I got a little more brave and told her that the more I read the Word, the more I felt like God was asking me to write, even though I felt so inadequate (another excuse).
Without missing a beat she looked at me and said, “If God is asking you to write and you aren’t, that’s being disobedient. You need to just do it.”
Disobedient. That hurt the old pride. But I felt the same conviction of the Holy Spirit and I knew she was correct. Now in the span of the week, I’d heard the words lazy and disobedient to describe my excuse-laden lifestyle. BUMMER.
Guess what? I got up the next morning, got on my knees and asked for forgiveness for my excuses. Then, I started the habit of writing daily after I finish my devotions. A few months later, I signed up for a publishing class. A few months after that, I launched my blog. Then, I went to a writer’s conference and met with a publisher. Yesterday, I launched my newsletter.
It hasn’t been easy, but it’s way more exciting and fulfilling walking out my purpose than it was being held captive by fear. Fear is a liar (yes, I know that is a song), and so is pride.
Friends, is there an area in your life where you are making excuses? Can you name it?
Do you know what is at the root… is it fear or pride or maybe something else holding you prisoner?
Here’s my humble thought: you can stop making excuses and face the thing you think you can’t face. If I can do it, so can you. We have the same loving and patient and powerful God. And his power is > than the power of any excuse.
- Get in the Word. It holds the power to change you. To fix your thoughts. To silence fear and break down pride. To give strength and courage. To bring truth… truth that failure and embarrassment and fear and ridicule have no hold on you because ONLY WHAT GOD THINKS ABOUT YOU MATTERS. The Word reminds you to live a life of surrender and holiness and sacrifice. It drowns out the noise of the voices telling you approval and accolades and comfort matter. There is no substitute for the Word of God and its power to change your life. True victory comes from God’s power in us, not our own effort. I literally couldn’t overcome my fears until I was in the Word so much that God’s voice telling me who HE is and who I am in Him was louder than any other voice. I got to the place where I wanted to please him more than anything else. The first, and most important, step to overcoming excuses is being filled with the power of God – by reading his word. Our effort alone will always fall short of what God can accomplish in us through the power of his Word and his Spirit.
- Be honest and admit the excuses you are making. Identify the root cause of what you are avoiding. It helps to identify the real issues.
- Pray. Be honest with God about your issue and ask for his help. More specifically, pray that he send his Spirit to empower you to accomplish his will. Claim Ephesians 3:20 “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” We aren’t meant to do this alone!
- Make a plan. Overcoming excuses doesn’t happen by accident. Set small goals for yourself and then take small steps forward. Change most likely won’t happen all in one day. It takes the daily grind of choosing to trust God and take action in order to make progress.
- Find an accountability partner to help you, encourage you and nag you if necessary. It is beyond helpful to have someone who will kick your butt when you need it, and you will need it.
Maybe you have tried before, many times, to face your excuses and failed. It’s ok. I did too. God is full of grace and love for his people. He desires to help you accomplish his will for your life. Put him first, fight with his power. Resolve to try again with the power of Jesus, not on your own. Excuses stand no chance in the face of the Almighty, All-conquering God of the Universe.
As always, let me know if you need prayer. I love to pray because it works! Sign up for my email list if you haven’t already so that we can continue to get to know each other and grow; let’s do this faith journey together.
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