25 (Really) Lame Excuses for Not Following Your Calling.

Whether you are a Christian or no, I believe that God has put on each of our lives a particular calling. That’s not to say we’re each called to do something great, and grand, and world-changing (though let’s give a little weight to the world-changing nature of normalcy!). It simply means that you and I are wired for purpose.

We’re designed to do something.

Of course, in one sense, you are right now where you’re called. But in another, you’re pursuing your calling – you’re working daily toward some end, some vision that you feel God has placed in your life.

But I’ve found over the years that I hinder my own calling with excuses. Identifying them, however, helps me annihilate them. So let me do that for you, by sharing my top 25 lame excuses for not working out my calling:

1. I have poor motives. It’s a blessing that you recognize it. But if that was good reason not to do something, no Christian deed would be worthwhile. Don’t multiply your sin by making it an excuse!

2. I don’t have money. First, God doesn’t need your money to fulfill His calling for you. Second, I bet you can name just as many, if not more, successful people who came from poverty as from privilege. Third – to paraphrase George Lucas – limitations are the nursery walls where creativity thrives (see Star Wars Episodes 4,5 and 6 on a very small budget vs. 1, 2 and 3 on a huge budget).

3. I don’t have connections. Connections are important. But then again, you know Someone.

4. I don’t have education. Education is great. But you can get a free, and better, education than the guy with six degrees next to you by going to your local library.

5. I don’t deserve it. Of course, this is true. But thank God, the grace of our calling is not based on our merit, but Christ’s.

6. Things aren’t going according to plan. This is as silly as it sounds, but I’ve used it many times over the years: “Well, woke up 5 minutes too late. Guess I can’t write this morning.” People who only seek destinations on smooth waters won’t get anywhere worthwhile. Expect to be jarred – roll with the punches. Improvise.

7. People will criticize me. Yes, people will. So don’t do it as unto them, but as unto the Lord (Col. 3:23).

8. People will feel bad. Some sensitive folks are afraid their success will make the people around them feel bad. It may, yes. But for every ten who you sour over success, one might just be inspired, or “spurred on to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24).

9. It’s taking longer than I thought. Michael Hyatt once wrote that the one difference between successful people and everyone else was perseverance. So many people, he said, give up just on the cusp of success. So stand apart: press on.

10. I failed. You will fail. Expect it. Then be wise, and get back up again (Prov. 24:16).

11. I have a disability. Good news for you: God loves to use the unlikely. Moses had a speech impediment. David was puny. Paul had a shady past. God’s power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9)

12. My family/friends/roommates/neighbor’s pets are holding me back. It may be that you need to tend to a family member’s needs in place of your vocational calling. But it may also be that you’re blaming them for your lack of discipline. Be discerning. Take responsibility.

13. I’m not like other people who’ve done it. That’s why you should do it. You bring something new to the table.

14. I’m too old/young/middle-aged. Believe it or not, there’s no “right” age to fulfill a call. Jane Austen was 21 when she wrote Pride and Prejudice. Tolkien began work on the Lord of the Rings at 45.

15. Pursuing my calling is worldly. There may be truth to the fact that your current pursuits are worldly. But it’s not true that your calling is worldly, because your calling “is where your deep gladness and the world’s great hunger meet.” It’s where you further God’s kingdom for His glory and others’ good.

16. I don’t have a calling. Well, you do. God has called you to be His, but he’s also called you to a certain kind of life (1 Cor. 7:17). This is true not just for pastors, but for all of God’s people.

17. I don’t have the time. Wait, now, just change one word of that: “I don’t make the time”. Ah, that’s better. Not quite as convincing, though.

18. It’s supposed to be easy. This sounds stupid enough put so bluntly, but I let this lie paralyze me for many years. Shouldn’t the thing I’m called to just, kind of, you know…float to me on a cloud? That wasn’t true for Jesus’ calling, nor Paul’s. It certainly won’t be for yours.

19. It requires skills I don’t have. Now I need to be careful not to encourage more “gifted” singers’ shrill church solos…but if you question your gifting, you’re likely not in that category. If by this you mean it requires some skills you don’t have, A. Learn them (see #4), and B. Surround yourself with people who do have those skills.

20. I’m not as talented as _____. You’re not called to be the best. You’re just called. Be humble, and be content to be a small part of something bigger (1 Cor. 12:21).

21. I’m too good for ________. Landing a dream job out of college is just that – a dream. I’ve become convinced over the years that, like Joseph, most of us are better off working from the bottom up. Start at the bottom, even if it’s not a perfect fit. You’ll be better at the top.

22. I’m just not the kind of person who could do it. Really? A son of God, a brother of Jesus, a renovated heart, a place God calls his holy temple, a new creation in Christ…not the kind of person who could do it? Not buying it. Re-identify.

23. No one in my family’s ever done it. See #22.

24. I don’t feel like it. My high-school guitar teacher once gave me sage advice: “Play until you hate it. Then play until you love it again.” Habits often lead to affections. So use accountability and external motivation to start off, and the feelings will follow.

25. I’ll do it when God wants me to. This is true. But it’s also a poor excuse not to work in the meantime, which would be a bit like Adam pointing his finger at God after the whole apple incident, wouldn’t it?

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Posted in Leadership, Theology, Writing.


Nicholas McDonald is a blogger, pastor, and author of the book "Faker: How to Be Real When You're Tempted to Fake it." He studied creative writing and communication at Oxford University and Olivet Nazerene University, and received his M.Div from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Lexington, NC, with his wife and two boys, Caleb and Owen.