An Encouraging Word — The root of excuses

Father J. Ronald Knott
Father J. Ronald Knott

They all began to excuse themselves. Luke 14:18

Forget about being too young, too old, too tired, too overweight, too out of shape, too busy, too inexperienced, too overwhelmed and too short of money, time, connections, opportunities, talents, skills, friends or whatever! These evasive tactics all have at their root plain old fear and laziness.

Excuses are really convenient ways to feel temporarily good about ourselves in the absence of doing the hard work of getting our act together. We use these convenient alibis to evade taking responsibility for our lives. They allow us to feel sorry for ourselves, to wallow in self-pity and to flounder in self-doubt.

What exacerbates the pain in the situation of abdicating one’s power to make oneself happy is the tendency to add the dimension of actual belief in one’s own powerlessness which makes laziness and self-doubt even more appealing and understandable.

Readers of this column know how often I collect quotes and use them in my writing. On this subject, excuses, I would like to share a few of my favorite quotes. Since they make similar points to mine, I would like to add their pointed insights here.

According to Francois de la Rochefoucauld: “Nothing is impossible; there are ways that lead to everything, and if we had sufficient will we should always have sufficient means. It is often merely for an excuse that we say things are impossible.” He also wrote, “We have more ability than will power, and it is often an excuse to ourselves that we imagine that things are impossible.”

A Yiddish proverb says,“If you don’t want to do something, one excuse is as good as another.” And Alexander Pope wrote, “An excuse is worse than a lie, for an excuse is a lie, guarded.”

George Washington Carver believed: “Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”
Marcus Stroup said, “There aren’t nearly enough crutches in the world for all the lame excuses.”

A culture riddled with excuse-making and a sense of entitlement is surely headed for certain disintegration. How long are we going to be able to say that we are “the most powerful nation on earth?”

Alexis de Tocqueville believed, “A nation cannot be strong when everyone belonging to it is individually weak.”

When I teach those about to be ordained, I ask them to tell me about the Titanic. One of the things that comes up is that everyone on board expected the cruise company to provide enough life boats. They didn’t!

I tell them not to trust the church to take care of them when they are old, even though it is something we have grown to expect and maybe deserve. I help them open their own IRA just in case. My motto in this regard is, “Trust your camel, but tie it first!”

Decide today to quit making excuses and blaming others. Seize your personal power and get on with being responsible for your own happiness. You owe it to yourself.

Father J. Ronald Knott

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