-by Rev. Jeff Gannon, Senior Pastor
Every day I pray for wisdom. I learned from the Psalms the importance of praying for wisdom. The Psalms has a perspective I embrace. I can do everything I can such as study, research, listen, and learn and the by product will be knowledge. The Psalms are individually and corporately adamant that wisdom is a gift from God. God can give us wisdom in our seeking of knowledge but the Psalmists have come to the conclusion that only God ultimately gives wisdom. I have known very wise persons who do not have a lot of knowledge and I have a lot of persons who have a lot of knowledge and not much wisdom. There are very few who have an abundance of both. It is not that wisdom and knowledge are mutually exclusive. They are, in fact, two sides to the same coin, if you will. Wisdom, if you and I listen well to the Psalms, is a gift of the Holy Spirit for those who take the spiritual life seriously.
Therefore, for the next several weeks, I want to share wisdom with you. I know it is presumptuous for me to name something as wise. But wisdom is like the color green. You know it when you see it. It is like the taste of chocolate ice cream. Very difficult to describe but you know it when you experience it.
A pastor, for whom I have tremendous respect, Jim Jackson, recently retired. He has begun to take Scripture, life experience, professional perspective, and a whole lot of pondering to create a set of “laws.” These are not legalistic practices but principles upon which God has created this earth. Just like the law of gravity, there are spiritual laws at work in this universe and Jesus was always speaking about them using the language of the Kingdom of God. This is how God has arranged this world to work at its best and reality is, as Dallas Willard says, what we run up against when we are wrong.
“You Aren’t God”
The law of assuming too much responsibility: Never buy more field than you can plow.
From the moment we are born, we are encouraged to take on an ever-increasing amount of responsibility. Accepting responsibility is a two-edged sword. Society could not function if people with ability take care of themselves and to help others did not accept responsibility. But there comes a point when taking on more responsibility results in our being depleted, overwhelmed, and depressed. We have bought more field than we can plow.
The root word for “responsibility” has to do with our being “able to respond.” When our responsibilities are too great, we are no longer “able to respond” adequately.
Here are ten questions to ask yourself before taking on additional responsibilities:
1. Is it my responsibility?
2. Do I have the emotional resources to take it on?
3. What is my stress level?
4. Will I spread myself too thinly?
5. How long-term is the responsibility?
6. Am I rescuing an irresponsible person?
7. How much does guilt or shame play into my desire to help?
8. Do I have an issue with co-dependency?
9. Do I have a problem saying “No?”
10. Will I pick up an emotional paycheck for doing it?
Many years ago my wife gave me a needlepoint for Christmas that hangs in my office. It reads, “There is a GOD – you’re not him!”
“It’s No Excuses’ Day”
The law of excuses: Excuses are like armpits; everyone has a couple and both of them stink.
When was the last time you heard someone accept responsibility for their error without offering an alibi or rationalization? Chances are it’s been a while. Many of us are experts at making excuses for others and ourselves. We would be better off keeping our mouths shut.
Shakespeare said trying to hide our failures with excuses is like concealing a small hole in our garment with a large patch; it only makes the matter worse. He wrote, “And oftentimes, excusing of a fault, doth make a fault the worse by the excuse; as patches set upon a little breach, discredit more in hiding of the fault, than did the fault before it was so patch’d.”
Ben Franklin put it even more directly: “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
Just for today, make no excuses.