Armand Kruger, MA
Dr. Marius Schalekamp
Summary: In revisiting
blow-out" pattern, the authors offer that excuses
makes sense in reference to the non-achievement of outcomes.
By learning from characters from the Bible they offer tests
for Christians to validate go-no go, and then ways for dealing
with excuses. The highest test is whether the outcome is glorifying
God. The reassurance is if it does glorify God and in the
will of God, then undertaking will be "supported"
by God. It is with this hope as frame-of-reference, the person
should review and blow-out excuses.
The lessons learned from Moses
(Exodus 4:10-13), Saul (1 Sam. 13:11-13, and 1 Sam. 15:14-16),
Jeremiah (Jer. 1:4-8) and in Haggai (when the delay in the
temple seem to be about no material, no money, had to built
their houses, etc.) is that they came up with excuses after
instructions given to them by God. Similarly, Nehemiah went
through a process, which we will describe below, which started
by him realizing that he had a passion that he wanted to restore
the new Jerusalem. This was not just the wish of a loyal Jew,
but this work is aimed at a presupposed wish of God, namely,
to restore His city. Two common denominators come to mind
immediately, namely that all these outcomes where God-given
outcomes, and only then did the people begin to look at themselves
and their circumstances wherein they saw the "reasons
not to...". But, what they "forgot" (or did
not consider) and had to hear from God, is that God supplies
that needed for His outcomes.
A pattern for the excuse blow-out
that we propose will therefore have two key headings: validating
the outcome, and then exploring the "excuses". Specifically:
1. Validating the outcome:
Essentially the validation
is whether the outcome will glorify God, and one way of doing
this validation is to take the outcome and
test it against the need
and passion in your own heart;
test it against the commands
from God, for example, the great commission;
test it against the promises
from God, for example, ..........................;
test it against the principle
of love, i.e. how one is to love our God and one's neighbor;
test it against the purity/holiness
of one's own motives (James 3:17,18: Neh. 1:5,6)
test it in the body of Christ;
test it in consistent, earnest
prayer before God that it is His will and not just the good
intention of the doer.
Blackaby and King's1
suggestions are: "In all honesty with yourself and before
God, come to the place where you are sure that your only desire
is to know God's will alone. Then check to see what the Holy
Spirit is saying in other ways. Ask yourself;
• what is He saying to me
in His Word?
• What is he saying to me
• Is he confirming it through
• Is He conforming it through
the counsel of other believers?"
The value and weight of the
outcome against the above tests gives a new frame to the weight
and consideration of the "why one should", and a
corresponding reassessment of the reasons for not getting
to it, or starting it, or not taking it seriously. However,
an important consideration before moving towards the exploration
of excuses and obstacles, is the fact that God is the answer
to all the obstacles towards His outcomes! Whatever the obstacles
were that Moses and Jeremiah offered for not being able to
do God's will, God supplied the answer and the resources.
Doing it for God implies doing it with God's help and in His
way. If then one's outcome is about God's business and/or
has been validated to glorify God, then one can charge ahead
with the hope in the promise that God will supply and help.
It is even more than having hope, it is a belief as defined
in Hebrews 11:1-2. For those outcomes "of God",
whatever thinking one does about the excuses, happens within
this frame of grounded/real hope in the ability and the resources.
What difference does this meaning
of the "hope" and "belief" make? It has
definitive implications for what one's thinking is about when
it comes to things "outside of my control". As people
we can only take responsibility for that which I can initiate
and maintain, which are key elements in well-formed conditions
of an outcome. When one is busy with the business of God,
then one's involvement with that which is "outside my
control" is a very active, prayerful concern. Jabez,
in asking the blessing of the Lord, realizes the parts outside
his control and then definitively asks for God's hand to be
on him (1 Chron. 4:10) including the mercy of protecting him
from evil. Mathew Henry has this to say about this part of
Jabez's prayer: "That he would keep him from evil, the
evil of sin, the evil of trouble, all the evil designs of
his enemies, that of trouble, all the evil designs of his
enemies, that they might not hurt him, nor grieve him, nor
make him a Jabez indeed, a man of sorrow; in the original
there is an allusion to his name. Father in heaven, deliver
me from evil."2
"The strange thing about
excuse-making, the greater and more sophisticated our skills
at reasoning, explaining, and intellectualizing, more subtle
and invisible (to us) our powers of rationalization.
We can come up with more and more sophisticated B.S. for getting
away with things. It reinforces the old line that Ph.D. means
"Piled Higher and Deeper."3
The first level of excuse making involves simply finding or
inventing a reason that explains why something is out of the
question, inappropriate, not useful or binding, etc. "Structurally,
all of these "reasons" occur at a meta-level to
the Primary State of some activity. To the primary experience
and all the thoughts, feelings, physiologies that would be
involved if we engaged in it, we have other thoughts and
feelings, usually negative thoughts and feelings. We don't
want to be bothered. We dislike the experience. So excuses
generally involve an unpleasant meta-state about some primary
Thus, an excuse is a frame
about the proposed experience that induces one to avoid that
which will contribute to it's happening. Moses' excuse-making
focuses on his speech impediment; Jeremiah offers his young
age; Saul couldn't wait because the people where leaving him;
he did not kill and destroy because he wanted to offer the
choice of the stock to God (1Sam. 15:14_16), etc. One offers
a variety of reasons of more and less important, to self and
others for this avoidance: it is not important enough, I am
not capable, I don't have what it takes, "don't know
how, don't know when", I don't seem to get to it other
things keep interfering, etc. reasons also vary for the person
in terms of importance, and this means that the more important
the reason, the higher up are they in terms of the levels
of meaning. When these reasons start to be a third or fourth
answer to meta-questions (like "why?", "how
does it serve you?", "what is important for you
to not want to....?", "what does it mean to you?",
"what is even more important than getting started?",
etc.) then one starts to hear the idols in whose service the
excuse-making, and sometimes the outcome, stand.
So we attempt to excuse ourselves
from the engagement by making up some "reason" that
seems to allow us or another person to grant us excuse. For
this reason, excuses generally operate as a form of
persuasion. We essentially say (to ourselves or another),
"Please have me excused
from X activity because of this or that reason..."
Excuses are only excuses to
the observer! The excuse-maker typically has a very real subjective
validation for their "excuse". Since excuses work
from a level of frame above the primary experienced, they
function at the level of language, where how and what one
says, is what it means. Saying it makes it real, and saying
it more than once with a conviction (as when one justifies
it), confirms it (as "a belief"). This is the same
as when one has to defend a conviction: the more you have
to justify it, the more it is anchored as a belief.
Given the validity of the outcome,
and it's importance to the doer, now one is ready to
think implementation and excuses. If there is already some
awareness of "excuse-making" meta-questions like
the following adds to the motivation of saying no to excuses:
- Do you like the awareness
that you're "just making an excuse?"
- What do you think about
the fact that you are servicing an idol instead of keeping
your eyes on you Father?
- Does that awareness of an
idol make you feel anxious, uncomfortable?
- Do you fear it?
- Do you reject it and refuse
to know that about any particular "reason?"
These questions begin the exploration
of how have you framed the subjective experience of
The following pattern was suggested
by Michael Hall during his visit to South Africa (October
2000). Step 2 in the pattern takes on a particular character
when one brings to bear Christian hope and belief and is the
contribution and responsibility of the authors. First, the
Excuse Blow-Out Pattern:
1. Access the desired state
and, while keeping it's importance and validation in the forefront
of your mind, allow the excuses to emerge. This one can do
by paying attention to what stops one from realizing one's
2. Quality control the "excuse":
- Is it legitimate with reference
to God's will and His glory?
- Do I need what the excuse
provide? (Jabez in asking for God's blessing was asking
God for a supernatural favor which means he is asking for
more than what a person can [naturally] get for themselves5).
- Can I "just" it?
(in other words if I framed it as "just an excuse"
- What does God provide that
I can initiate and maintain?
- Is the timing "now?".
The circumstance conducive to following the path to ones
outcomes is a valuable indicator of the "when".
(James 4:13-17). However, in considering God's plan, in
the circumstances and the timing one may be confronted with
a "not now" message. When things are not in place
then the waiting upon God like a Habbakuk from the watchtower
with a ready anticipation, is the better way.
3. Preserve the value of the
elements that is useful and to which one has to pay attention
to. "Suck out" the good stuff from the excuse.
4. Reject the empty shell of
the excuse by firmly "meta-no-ing"
it: feel it in your legs as you stomp it flat and out of existence.
5. Quality control the decision
of your readiness to "go get and make happen"!
"Welcoming our excuses
allows us to then sort through the valid and invalid ones.
Then we can clearly decide, "No!" I don't need that
excuse, and "Yes!" that's an appropriate one that
I'll keep."6 And to get
busy with the business of God's will and glory.
Henry T and King, Claude V(1990): Experiencing God: Knowing
and doing the Will of God. LifeWay Press, Nashville, Tennessee
37234, page 89, and 4. on back inside cover.
HENRY'S COMMENTARY ON THE WHOLE BIBLE. New Modern Edition.
Complete and Unabridged in Six Volumes. Copyright 1991 by
Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.
L Michael: "Excuse
Hall, as above
Bruce (2000): The Prayer of Jabez. Multnomah Publishers,
PO Box 1720, Sisters, Oregon 97759, p23
L Michael in "Excuse
Contact information for
South Africa's Institute
of Neuro - Semantics
PO Box 494
South Africa, 1960
©2001 Armand Kruger and
Dr. Marius Schalekamp
All rights reserved.