If you have been in youth ministry longer than a month then you have had the fortunate blessing of hearing a teenager come up with an excuse as to why the could not go to _____________________ (insert activity). I imagine I have heard every sort of excuse as to why a teenager (sometimes even a parent) could not show up to an activity:
- The ever-reliable homework: “Dude, I am like slammed at school and I have to do so much homework it’s ridiculous.” Then I see them on Facebook right before an activity starts and wonder, “must not be too slammed.”
- I am totally sick! This one is used legitimately but often it is used as a cop-out because they just do not want to come to an activity.
- I already made plans. OK…did you make the plans 3 months ago when we passed out the schedules and e-mailed them to you?
- I never signed up for that. Yes you did…I have your handwriting right here. “Why didn’t you remind me?” I am not your parents!
- I have too much going on…
- I’m tired…
- I forgot…
I know I can put more on the list but you get the idea. Excuses are lies masqueraded in a tuxedo. At their core excuses cover up what is really a heart issue and that is they do not want to go to the activity. One time when I asked a teenager why they did not attend the activity they responded: “I just didn’t think I would have fun.” Brutal? You better believe it! But they were honest and I appreciated that. Not in a youth group? Don’t think this applies to you? Let me ask you a question: Have you communed with God today? Have you basked at his feet in prayer, in meditation in reading and in worship? No? Why not? The responses that are going through your head right now are pre-fabricated responses your brain has set up to allow your conscience to feel better about not doing what was right or doing what was not right. Call it an “explanation” or a “reason” but I call it an excuse. Perhaps we need to shed the “excuse” label and remove one more layer and call it what it is: SIN! Sounds ugly and a little hell-fire-and-brimstone(like) but I believe that is exactly what an excuse is.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:9-10
Steven Grayhm once said, “Excuses are the tools with which persons with no purpose in view build for themselves great monuments of nothing.” I like that! To be sure, I am speaking more towards those who should know better and were taught the ways of Jesus and have been entrusted with so much responsibility. Excuses make me sick even when I make them. I find myself consciously excusing little things away as to why I do not need to worry about them and it makes me sick to my stomach. Excuses make things worse or, in the words of a French proverb, “justifying a fault doubles it.”
So why are you not doing good things? Or, why are you doing bad things? What’s the REAL reason? I think the excuses we make hide us from the painful and scary reality of what lies deep within our heart. No excuses. Enjoy the poem below…
ALL MY GREAT EXCUSES by Kenn Nesbitt
I started on my homework but my pen ran out of ink. My hamster ate my homework. My computer's on the blink. I accidentally dropped it in the soup my mom was cooking. My brother flushed it down the toilet when I wasn't looking. My mother ran my homework through the washer and the dryer. An airplane crashed into our house. My homework caught on fire. Tornadoes blew my notes away. Volcanoes struck our town. My notes were taken hostage by an evil killer clown. Some aliens abducted me. I had a shark attack. A pirate swiped my homework and refused to give it back. I worked on these excuses so darned long my teacher said, "I think you'll find it's easier to do the work instead."