For much of our decision making, we lean hard into our intentions and pay very little attention to the direction of the path we’ve chosen… It breaks my heart how many people I speak with who don’t connect the dots between the choices they make and the outcomes they experience. People like this believe the popular notion that as long as their intentions are good, as long as their hearts are in the right place (whatever that means), as long as they do their best and try their hardest, it doesn’t matter which path they take. They believe somehow they will end up in a good place. Somehow. Yet the problem is they are on the wrong path. –Andy Stanley, The Principle of the Path, p. 20
If this is all you read this new year, go buy this book. You’ve already gained something.
While you are at it, go buy this book too. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. So Bravester. It’s the first book I’m reading this year. It’s beautifully written and talks honestly about the bumps, failures, and the ordinariness it is to live this Christian life.
I created this meme a year ago for one specific person in my life. I hear his voice attached to each of those excuses. Another year of good intentions has not moved him forward in his life. I hope this meme was helpful to you—to somebody!!!!!!!
All of those good intentions only to be on the wrong path. A death is needed here to get you on the right path. Because aren’t your good intentions wearing you out? And we’ve heard your excuses. Excuses are true. They are based on truth. But so what? What are you going to do about it? Your excuses do not change a single thing. Your excuses actually keep you on the wrong path. Get past your excuses and get on with it.
“Blame is a sort of comfort food for the soul. It diverts us from the effort of owning responsibility.”
― Henry Cloud, It’s Not My Fault: The No-Excuse Plan for Overcoming Life’s Obstacles
Yes, this is hard. We’ve never been shy about that here.
We talk often here about the broken road of faith. There are mistakes made. Pain caused by your own choices. Yet when exposed to the truth, you can always move forward when you are on the right path.
A death is needed of something or some relationship to get you on that right path.
My son was asking me about the Parable of the Shrewd Manager, Luke 16:8-9 specifically. My son is a felon and former hustler. He’s been a shrewd manager on the wrong path. This parable and these verses specifically have been wrestling inside of him, trying to figure out if he is possibly on the right path. Here was my response to him (sometimes I amaze myself at what I come up with when asked out of the blue):
The version I read (New Living Translation) said this (v. 8), “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd.” Dishonest rascal! Yet this dishonest rascal received grace! This doesn’t seem to add up in the math of how God is “supposed to” work, does it?! Why should a dishonest rascal be able to “get over” those who are good?
This is a man who doesn’t have good purposes in life, he doesn’t even have an honest character. But Jesus says he does one thing right–he doesn’t go into excuse mode. He actually does something. He forms a concrete plan and he executes it. There is vulnerability in his decision making. He did something to change his path.
When we get stuck in how God is “supposed to” be scarcity is all over that. Because of my shame I am to perform like this so I can get this from God. And then God throws that formula right out by honoring a dishonest rascal. Because this dishonest rascal did something! Something!
What the shrewd manager did by illegally discounting the accounts he was in charge of doesn’t make sense in a “supposed to”/certain faith world but it was what was needed to get him on the right path to redeem his life. No wonder this is a hard-to-understand parable for so many.
So do the brave thing. Do what needs to be done to have that death happen. Even if you wish it would “supposed to” go another way. Or if this would happen this is “supposed to” happen. Or this is “supposed to” be all right. What other excuses have been holding you back? Or what lie you’ve been telling yourself that is changing your story?
Be brave. Do this something. Get on this right path.
(Photo credit: https://www.trainingzone.co.uk/develop/business/is-your-lms-hindering-your-blended-learning)