I don’t know, I guess I’ve been lucky, at least as far as I’m concerned. I have been a part of really successful organizations, been part of a lot of achievements. Been with very uplifting, positive, “can-do” types of people. Now let me make this very clear up-front, this is not aimed at the people in my congregation. I cannot commend these people enough. A lot of them came together and saved a grand-old church and maintained it as a genuine Lutheran church and have put in many years to do that. To that I say “well done”, these are a “can-do” people.
Having said that, there seems to be this common thread of giving people excuses to just not do anything except receive and be very passive and really just leave it to others, those who have kind of designated themselves as the best and brightest and they will fix everything and provide everything. They will of course take most everything too, and leave the scraps for those who just passively follow them, but they will provide a service. They will let most people kind of wallow around in their excuses, feeling sorry for themselves, expecting to be treated with pity, never trying, never striving, never dreaming and certainly never achieving while they live in their squalid little existence and let others take what they might have had if they only strove. You may think I’m being harsh, but let’s listen to Paul: “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). That’s not harshness on his part, and he was more then active in helping those who genuinely needed help, but he saw too many around him who thought they were entitled to special treatment because of their excuses.
It is beginning to seem to me that every kid, especially if he’s a boy, has a “learning disability” and they are somehow entitled to special, and of course, expensive treatment. There has been a huge explosion of this in the last couple of decades. I submit that if there was the slightest amount of effort put forth by those who so facilely make these “diagnoses”, tell me honestly, you haven’t met one person who has received the psuedo-scientific “diagnoses” of ADHD. I mean it’s almost like the discount coupons at the entrance of the supermarket. Everyone gets a coupon on the way in and they’re expected to use it. Have any of these “professionals” made the slightest effort to determine what kind of diet this child is on, what kind of exercise, what kind of sleep schedule, what kind of focus there is in their home, before they just write them off quickly and easily. I know a bunch of children, as young as nine/ten years old who are routinely given coffee day in and day out. Let’s be honest, no one really needs coffee, any kind of caffeine. As an adult I needed a medical doctor to tell me I was abusing caffeine. As soon as I stopped, I slept better, I focused better, my entire behavior was much better. At the time I was in my twenties, very physically active and otherwise very healthy. I was physically an adult, if anyone could tolerate a little too much caffeine it would have been me. Adolescents should not be getting mega-doses of caffeine and then to have some “para- professional” tell you that you’re child is going to need “special classes”.
But this is only one part of the story, just a glaringly obvious part that is going to have more and more impact in the years to come. Too many people today just cannot function in a post-modern, hurry-hurry, time is of the essence world. They have grown up and lived in an environment where they could make excuses day in and day out, the irony being that they could never understand why they never got anywhere in life. It’s become a lifestyle for me as a pastor, ask someone to be somewhere or do something, you can see the file- cards flipping in their head. They aren’t thinking “how am I going to do this”, which is my normal means of handling these things. They are thinking “what’s a good enough excuse to not do this”. It’s not my imagination, it’s just not. Sure once in awhile, people genuinely can’t do, and that’s ok. But it’s gotten to the point where, depending on the person, I can predict whether I’m going to get a “can-do” or an excuse.
Being a Christian we have the ultimate example of the Lord as a “can-do”. Jesus didn’t accept excuses, wasn’t interested. He knew there were some people who do get the short-end and for them He did show mercy and kindness. But in twenty-first century northeast United States, we really don’t have any excuses. We are probably the most advantaged people in the history of the world. We have tools and support that weren’t dreamed of even 50 years ago. People have no reason whatsoever for excuses, except of those who abuse food, drugs, sleep, get no exercise, don’t take advantage of all the things around them and simply won’t do much of anything except what gives them their little thrill. We have the Biblical example of men and women like Paul, Peter, Mary, Joseph, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John et al, who did things that were probably far above their abilities and talents. As Christians we have no excuses, we have the strength and spirit of a loving Savior who moves us where He wants us. Hey He picked me up and moved me through seminary. Seminary is hard, learn two new languages, history, doctrine, preaching, counseling, writing, research, hermeneutics, so much more. Believe me the only reason I went, I passed and became a trained pastor was through the strength of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t just make us pastors. God has a plan for each of us and when we are faithful to that plan and not letting the nonsense of the world enable us in our petty little wants and desires, we can do amazing things. I’m not saying that God is going to make everyone successful and rich and pretty and talented. I am saying He has a place for you in the world, He is going to move you in life and use your life to His glory. It may not always be the best, it may not always be what you think it should be, it may not do everything you think it should, but when we do what we do for God’s glory, we know it and we continue to trust and rely on Him. Not the excuses, not our petty little wants and (I love this one) “needs”, but what is truly best for us and what keeps us trusting in Him.
In the resurrection we will be in His presence for eternity, we will have, as Jesus promised, life and life more abundant. For now strive to be the best that you can be and trust God’s leading. Do not trust in those who simply want to drag you down and make you believe that you are either “entitled” or have excuses that somehow make you entitled. It’s easy to just passively sit back and whine, is that what you think God really wants for you?