Years ago I ran into a man at a retreat that I hadn’t seen for quite a while…As we sat down across from each other I asked him what he was doing nowadays and what ministries he was engaged in (he had been actively serving in his church when I saw him last). His answer went something like this…”I have been going to the men’s ministry and the pastor even asked me if I would be a men’s small group leader, but I said no”.
So, I asked him “Are you pretty busy at work right now?” His reply? “No, I haven’t been working lately actually, I lost my job…I just said no to leading a small group because I thought that none of the men could relate to me since I am single and currently jobless.” So, as you can imagine I walked over to his side of the couch, gave him a big hug and said “what a lousy situation…I am so sorry for you, I totally understand”.
No, I didn’t do that. Instead, I told him to seriously rethink his decision. I understand what this brother was going through. Every person reading this can empathize, to some degree, with a man who is out of work. It is very hard on a man to be unemployed. For many men, being without a job is just a small step toward falling into depression. Men need to work. Christian men also have a need to serve their Master. That is why I was so up-front with my brother; I knew the value that he could bring to that small group. God was providing a way out of his funk (by being a blessing to others) but he wanted no part of it. At the end of the day, he lost a wonderful opportunity to serve other men.
That brings me to the point of this post. I am hearing variations on this theme over and over lately. Men who defer. Men who refuse to take responsibility in the church. Men who excuse themselves. Excuses come easy to us men because men are weak…and weak men use weak excuses. I speak from experience, I use them myself. As all men of God have learned though, making an excuse doesn’t mean that we are excused. I am not excused. God will not allow that.
Can I be so bold? Men of God need to step up and quit making sinful excuses that ultimately keep us from doing God’s will. The church is suffering because of it. The world is suffering because of it. Operative definition of an excuse? Telling God He doesn’t know what He is doing when He calls on us to do His will.
Yet God can relate to us and our excuses…Have you ever noticed how many great men throughout the Bible were visited by God and they excused themselves from His call? What is played out multiple times in Scripture is a scenario where God comes to a man (often an obscure individual) and tells him that He has a mission to fulfill. The man will then think through God’s call to action, size himself up for the task and then the man will give God his best “reason” as to why he cannot do it. The Bible contains a long list of excuse makers. On that list are names like Adam, Jeremiah, Moses, Gideon, Samson, Jonah, Elijah and Peter. People greatly used of God…but only after God (through various means) showed them that He meant business.
Why does the Bible depict such deeply flawed heroes in all their depravity? Well, of course the answer to that is God only uses weak men and it seems the weaker the better. Paul sums it up like this “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty…that no flesh should glory in His presence” 1 Corinthians 1: 26-29. The only way that God can be glorified is by using imperfect and foolish men. Is that you? It is definitely me. We are in good company. So, rethink those excuses you have been throwing at God.
You may be asking, if a man is self aware and he has a serious understanding of his limitations isn’t that called humility? The answer to that is yes; a humble man is acutely aware of his weaknesses but he still trusts God and His resources. The humble man knows all of His failures but still says “YES” to the call of God. If God is calling you and opening a door for you, be assured that He will enable you as you trust in Him.
God is a master at dealing with our excuses. He has heard them all. The Lord wants us to know the difference between humbly understanding our limitations and making excuses for them. He wants us to know that even though we lack the skill, He has supernatural ability. He wants us to know that even though we are weak, He is omnipotent. The Lord is actually looking for men to acknowledge their weakness and still move forward into the call that He has on their lives. So, when a friend gives you an excuse as to why He cannot minister to other needy men don’t pat him on the back and help him wallow in his pity. No, encourage him to trust in the almighty power of God.
And He (the Lord) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong”. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10