No More Excuses

“I can’t.” In youth ministry and education, I hear this phrase a lot. “I can’t read because it’s hard,” “I can’t cut that out because my hand is too tired,” “I can’t write that essay because I’m too busy,” “I can’t pray out loud because I don’t know how,” “I can’t be real with my friends because they might reject me,” “I can’t tell my friends about Jesus because I don’t know enough yet,” “I can’t help with that ministry because I’m not old enough,” “I can’t . . . because . . .” What I have found is that this phrase stems from a lack of trust. A lack of trust in themselves and in the person giving them the task and telling them they are capable. It can be really easy to get frustrated, shake my head at them, and say, “Would you just try it and trust that I know what I am talking about?” Yet, how many times has God asked me to do something and I have said the same, “I can’t . . . because . . .”?

When God called Jeremiah to speak on His behalf to the people of Israel, Jeremiah’s immediate response was, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” (Jer. 1:6, NLT). God had just told Jeremiah that He had purposefully and intentionally created Jeremiah for this task. God knew him in his mother’s womb and had set him apart to do this job, but Jeremiah’s response to God was to make excuses. Did Jeremiah think that God forgot how old he was? Did he think that God didn’t take his age and experiences into account? It can be easy to criticize Jeremiah, and yet, how many times have I done the same thing when God asked me to do something?

I love God’s response to the excuses, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and I will protect you. I, the LORD, have spoken” (Jer. 1:7-8). God is firm and calls out Jeremiah’s excuses, but He pairs it with a promise and a reminder. God promises to be with him and protect him and because of that Jeremiah can walk forward without fear. He reminds Jeremiah that He is Lord; who better to trust than the one who intentionally created you? The reason I love this is because God answers the doubts in Jeremiah’s heart . . . his doubt in himself, but also in the one who gave him the task and is telling him he can do it.

God calls all of us to stop making excuses and to trust that He knows what He is doing. When He calls you to love your neighbor, He knows who your neighbor is and how difficult they can be. When He is calling us to share the Gospel with and pray for those in our spheres of influence, He knows it won’t go perfectly. When God calls you to rise up and lead, in whatever capacity that looks like in your life, He knows exactly who you are, and He created you intentionally for this purpose. God didn’t focus on Jeremiah’s qualifications or lack thereof; He focused on obedience and trust. If we focus on going and doing whatever it is God is calling us into, our supposed weaknesses (young, old, experienced, inexperienced, married, single, widowed, childless, army of kids and grandkids, immigrant, eighth generation American, educated, uneducated, etc.) may very well be a part of His design for what He is doing.

The youth pastor in me also has to ask, what if we didn’t just believe this about ourselves, but also about the next generation? What would our world, our churches, and our communities look like if we empowered and raised up the youth around us with the confidence that God can and will use them no matter their age? What if instead of saying, “Not yet,” we said, “Let me walk with you and help you discern God’s voice”? Or when they came to us with issues of injustice that are troubling them, we didn’t just say, “The world is a broken place,” and move on, but rather asked, “What might God be asking you to do?” I get excited about the potential Kingdom impact this would have! Every generation empowered and mobilized in service to God, believing in the purpose they were created for. How beautiful would that be?

So let us be women who stop making excuses for ourselves and others and become women who boldly walk forward saying, “We can because God knows us, and we trust Him.”

Miriam Lawson

Miriam Lawson works bi-vocationally as an instructional assistant in a public charter school and as the youth pastor at Dallas Alliance Church in Dallas, Oregon. Her ministry passions include missions, collaborating with other local churches, and developing leaders and ministries for Kingdom impact. When Miriam isn’t spending time with teenagers, she enjoys attending Portland Thorns matches, watching movies, and drinking lots of coffee.

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