excusesThe Big But Problem

We all have big buts! I’m not talking about the size of your backside. We all use the word “but” to make excuses. We use “but” to explain why we are not able to do things that we want to do. We use “but” as a way to blame others when we do something for which we need to apologize. We use “but” as a way to blame circumstances. Buts are big! For this post, I want to focus on how we use “but” to make excuses.

If anyone could make excuses, Sean Stephenson could. Born with a debilitating genetic disease, he has become quite successful and an inspiration for others. In his book, Get Off Your But, Sean talks about how to overcome obstacles by taking responsibility for your own success, failures, happiness, and unhappiness. I highly recommend it.


The word “but” erases everything that was said before it. Look at these examples:

  • I would apply for that promotion, but I am afraid.
  • I’m sorry I’m late, but you knew I had a lot to do today.
  • I would like to do a better job, but they won’t train me.
  • The project wasn’t as good as it could have been, but I was rushed.

If you look at these four statements, the part after “but” is what grabs us. It leads to the excuse we are making. We all do this – probably a lot more than we think.

Taking Responsibility

We use this small word as a way to avoid responsibility. Without the use of “but,” we would have to take responsibility for whatever did or didn’t happen. Taking this word out of the above statements gets rid of the excuses. It puts responsibility back on the person. If we take the but out, we can see these statements instead:

  • Since I am afraid of not getting the promotion, I need to deal with my fear.
  • If I am late, I need to take responsibility for it and express a sincere apology instead of blaming circumstances.
  • I need to work harder and gain knowledge and skills so I can do a better job.
  • I need to budget my time better so I can present my best work.

Notice the operative word – I. When I am honestly evaluating things, I will often pop up as the problem. What this means is I have a responsibility for doing something about it. Make your but smaller by getting rid of your excuses. Take responsibility for yourself.

In Romans 7:15, the Apostle Paul said, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” Notice he used the word “I” six times. He didn’t use “but” even once.

Take responsibility for the things you want or need to change. Get rid of your excuses and your but will have a lot less power over your thoughts. We are all responsible for tackling our own fears and limitations.