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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

03 Jul '14

The folly of excuses

Posted by T.J. Addington
Have you noticed that almost no one takes responsibility for bad decisions or failures today? From the White House briefing room where everything is explained away, to our own lives where it is easy to say "It was not my fault," there is a dearth of those who take responsibility when something goes wrong. Witness the hearings on Capital Hill regarding the IRS or the roll out of Obama care where absolutely no one takes any personal responsibility but shifts the blame to others. Unfortunately it also happens in ministry organizations as well.

Common dodges of responsibility include:

  • I didn't make the decision
  • I was not informed
  • I would have done things differently
  • This is obviously spiritual warfare
  • If person x had done their job right, this never would have happened
  • It was a decision of the board
It is all quite foolish! And those around us recognize our excuses for what they are. It is also foolish because it robs us of certain important things.

It robs us of our integrity! Excuses are nothing less than a dodging of responsibility and to put the blame on others when we are responsible, in part or in whole is to lie. And those around us see the lie for what it is. The reason we would dodge responsibility is our pride. Ironically when we own up to what happened, we gain respect.

It robs us our leadership capital. Leaders take responsibility for what happens on their watch. The best leaders admit when things went south and take responsibility for it even if they were not personally responsible. They don't gloss or dodge. They also work quickly to fix it.

It robs us of an opportunity to learn and grow. Every failure is an opportunity to do something better and address something in our thinking or our system that caused that failure. When we dodge and gloss we effectively lose that opportunity because rather than facing the issue and fixing it we dodge the issue and therefore the opportunity to learn from it.

There is something deeply refreshing about men and women who make mistakes and are up front in admitting it. We are after all human! Admission is a sign of humility while excuses are a sign of foolish pride. Excuses started immediately after sin entered the garden as Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent. Excuses are a sign of our sinful nature while taking responsibility is a sign of spiritual maturity. The former robs while the latter builds character.