The other day I found myself contemplating the following two questions.
- Why is it that we make excuses all the time for others and ourselves?
- Why does humanity find it remarkably difficult to take an honest look at itself and others, while holding both accountable under God’s word?
I am fairly comfortable the foundational issues surrounding these two questions has a lot to do with a combination of a couple of contributing factors. The first concerns the lack of personal accountability that runs rampant throughout human civilization. This lack of personal accountability is so well documented it would waste considerable space listing all the examples. The second factor points directly to the title of this offering: “No More Excuses, Please!” Humanity, in general, and Christian congregations, in particular, have a seemingly endless supply of, and proficiency with, making excuses.
Truthfully, I have grown tired of these two contributing factors of humanity’s faulty character constantly showing itself I think I would actually faint from shock if I ever heard someone genuinely utter the words, “It’s my fault.” or “I’m responsible for this error in judgment and I’ll do whatever I can to fix the problem I caused.”
The Bible supplies a considerable amount of insight regarding human beings making excuses. Here are a couple of examples taken from Genesis and Jeremiah.
In Genesis 3:13 it says,
And the Lord God said unto the woman, what is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
In Jeremiah 1:5-7, God is refusing to accept the excuses of the young preacher when He answers Jeremiah’s doubts in himself by saying,
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou came forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and ordained thee a prophet (a preacher) unto the nations.
Jeremiah responded by saying, “Lord, I cannot speak for I am as a child.” And the Lord answered, saying “Do not say you are a child; for thou shall go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shall speak.”
Even if we were to make the assumption that Christian leaders actually know what to do to affect positive growth, and by no means am I suggesting that is a reality, we need to stop making excuses for ministers and lay leaders who refuse to do what is necessary to grow God’s kingdom. These same Christian “leaders” need to take a long look in the proverbial mirror when self-assessing their commitment to both grow themselves and to facilitate the growth of others. The church that Jesus gave His life for is called to be better than striving to attain survivability. The church dedicated to the life and mission of Christ is called to thrive, to expand, to conquer hopelessness, human doubt, and especially the acceptance of personal and organizational mediocrity. The Christian church with all of its differing expressions found at each local congregation deserve better than just surviving; much better!
Now, I want you to be truthful as you answer the following question.
Have you seen evidence there should be a greater commitment to growing professed followers of Christ in the areas of leadership, scholarship, service to others, sacrifice and empowerment?
The answer is, of course, YES! All congregations, whether they are healthy or not, should answer the previous question with an enthusiastic, YES! This issue is not whether we should or shouldn’t address this goal of personal and organizational growth. The issue is why aren’t more local congregations and their leaders firmly grasping how woeful many of our churches have been in accomplishing these necessary requirements of becoming healthy and thriving Christian locations.
Beloved, all over the Christian world there are great concerns regarding these previously mentioned areas of personal and institutional growth. The question is NOT “whether there exists sufficient levels of commitment to all areas of growth.” The question is rather, “What are we going to do about it?”
In Luke 14:18-19 we are told,
And they all with one consent began to make excuses. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground and I must go and see it. I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them. I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
The first thing to determine involves our honesty. Truly, every church pastor as well as its core leadership needs to be plainly honest concerning where their priorities lie? What comes first, second, third, and so on? For a local congregation they may need to choose what ministries or mission-emphasis they will focus their efforts. Some examples could be; parish oriented social justice issues or evangelism or maybe worship enhancements.
For an individual the questions regarding priorities are far more personal. If someone for example says their priorities are, “Family, home and then God,” they may be fine folk, but they have no business leading of God’s people.
When we speak about Christian leadership in the local church, we are referring to an overt, obvious, continuous, and sustainable belief…and the actions to authenticate that belief…that God is FIRST. For leaders in the church, personal comfort is secondary.
As a father and husband who loves his family, I want to be clear that I am not saying your family isn’t important. Of course they are! I’m not saying you should sell all you have and donate it to the church’s “puppy fund.” That would be stupid! What I am saying, however, is when any of us promise our lives, our hearts, and our commitment to lead God’s people it comes at a cost. That higher cost of responsibility is certainly higher and more involved than joining the PTA, Rotary, or local high school football booster club.
When we commit to growing God’s kingdom, THROUGH GROWING GOD’s PEOPLE, all that is done must be accomplished for the “glory of God” and not for any other reason. As a people-of-faith we are called to live our faith, not just talk about it. As Christians we are called to grow in God’s ways, not the “worlds” ways.
- As clergy we are called to continually grow in knowledge, reason, understanding and holiness; not just tell others to do it.
- As lay leaders of our local fellowships we are called to make sure that the next person that sits in our seat has it better than we do.
All of us are called to excellence in the service of God’s church – not convenience!
No more excuses.
- No more rationalizing why you are not better prepared for the service of leadership.
- No more leaders who are lazy and would rather have others do the work.
- No more free passes to stature and importance in the local church.
- No more complaining unless you show up to do some of the actual work.
- No more committees or positions that are filled with mere names on a piece of paper.
- No more telling people, “I love the Lord, my God,” and proceeding to separate themselves from others who are in need.
- No more telling folks which church you belong to, and maybe they see your face three times a year.
- No more “preacher wanna-bees” telling everybody and everyone how to be a pastor when they have never been one themselves.
- No more mouths moving with endless complaints about what ought to be done, when you haven’t gotten on your knees first to see what God wants done.
- Please – no more excuses!
God calls all believers to “get to work” for the Kingdom of God? God calls all believers to earnestly search, to actively reach out to those in-need while offering a sincere helping hand of practical encouragement? Can’t we just worship the God that has given us life and not worry about what brother so-and-so is wearing? Can’t we just be honest about where we are in our own Christian walk of faith and then begin to address “the bad” and “the good?”
We need to get real. We need to get ready. We need to get right with God. And we need to stop making excuses any longer. We are not members of a “club.” We are not members of a “good idea.”
We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ; the Followers of the Way; the City on a Hill; the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Now….How about we start acting like it!