“I Can’t.”


Do you ever catch yourself using the “I can’t…” excuse when things aren’t lining up the way you wanted? Have you ever refused to take responsibility for the events or circumstances of your life? Or have you ever tried to explain why you didn’t, couldn’t, or simply wouldn’t do something?

With the “I can’t” mentality, people present themselves as being helpless, unable to meet expectations and in need of others’ help.  This thinking error is very similar to victim stance.  Using helplessness as an excuse, this person will talk about how, “I can’t get a job”, “I can’t find a place to live”, or “I can’t overcome my disabilities.”  This is another way of exercising control over others. But if we confront the person for using the “I can’t” excuse, they will accuse us of being discriminatory or uncaring. 

With this excuse, a person will often try to avoid doing what is required or expected. For example, a person might say, “I couldn’t possibly keep all those rules. There’s too many and I can’t keep them all straight in my head.”  The person who says “I can’t,” often really means “I won’t,” and this excuse could lead to the loss of a job or even the loss of freedom.

In other situations, the person using the “I can’t” excuse is afraid of failing or being embarrassed. Fear can trap people in their comfort zone and leave them locked up while creating an illusion of security. Using this excuse to defend their lack of action, they will cripple their ability to move forward. Unable to advance through lawful channels, they may turn to crime to get what they want.

A few of our heroes in Bible times tried to get out of their assignments from the Lord by using the “I can’t” or “I’m not able” excuse.  That rationale didn’t fly with God then, and it still doesn’t work with Him today.

1. Read Judges 6:11-16.
  a) What assignment did the Lord give to Gideon?
  b) What excuses did Gideon offer? (vs. 15)
  c) How did the Lord respond to Gideon’s excuses? (vs. 16)

2. Read Exodus Chapters 3 and 4.
  a) What assignment did the Lord give to Moses?
    (Exodus 3:10)
  b) What objections did Moses raise to try to get out of the job?
    (Exodus 4:1)
    (Exodus 4:10)
  c) How did God respond to each of his excuses?
  d) What if Moses hadn’t gone?  What if Moses had flat out refused?  (Thought question - answers will vary.)

3. Now in Matthew 17, there actually was a situation where the disciples tried to do something and had to admit they had failed.
  a) What did the disciples attempt to do?
    (vs. 15-16)
  b) But why did Jesus say they were unable to do it?
    (vs. 20)

4. The same choice is before us today.  God has an assignment for each of us, something we were uniquely created to do. Are we making excuses so we don't have obey? Are we making excuses so we don't have to do what we know God wants us to do or to go where He wants us to go? Are we making excuses for why we will not trust Him for success in the assignment?

You may say “I can’t”, but God says you can. Check out the following verses for God’s answer to many of our excuses.

  a) You say, “It’s impossible.”  God says ...
    (Luke 18:27)
  b) You say, “I’m too tired.” God says ...
    (Matthew 11:28-30)
  c) You say, “I can’t go on.”  God says ...
    (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  d) You say, “I can’t figure things out.” God says ...
    (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  e) You say, “I can’t do it.”  God says ...
    (Philippians 4:13)
  f) You say, “I’m not able.” God says ...
    (Corinthians 9:8)
  g) You say, “I can’t because I’m not smart enough.” God says ...
    (James 1:5)

5. What advice would you give a person operating under the “I Can’t” thinking error?

Continue to Chapter 8

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