"You Never Do Anything You Don't Want to Do"
by Shawn McEvoy
Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. - Galatians 6:5, The Message
If I try, I can remember my friends from 10th-grade Sunday School. In fact, I'm still tight with two of them. I remember our church, our youth group, and our youth minister. What I don't remember so well are the individual lessons we learned from the Bible each week. As I realize that, I give myself another kick for not having gotten into note-taking and journaling. I'd like to have those things to review now.
What I do recall from one particular class session, however, has always stuck with me. And it wasn't even a quote from the Bible. To show how much I've forgotten, I don't even remember the name of the teacher who said it! He was tall, well-accomplished in business, but still wanting to give of his time to young men. And one day he looked at us and said the following:
"Today's lesson is going to be very short. Look at me, because whatever you remember from today, remember this. Whatever you remember from your time in this youth group, remember this: You never do anything you don't want to do."
That was it. Obviously I still remember it. Why?
I also remember challenging the teacher on that day, most of us scoffing and saying things like, "Yeah, right... I can honestly tell you I do not want to do my homework tonight."
"Yes you do."
"No, I really don't."
"What will happen if you don't?"
"Well, I guess I'd be embarrassed when it was time to turn it in, I'd probably have to lie to my parents when they asked if I'd done it yet, and I wouldn't be prepared for the upcoming quiz."
"So I guess the reason you're going to do your homework is because for the motives you just stated, you DO want to do it."
I wanna do my homework? ... Wow, I want to do my homework! What a relief to not have to dread it, but to face it gladly because I recognize my want.
A dozen high school boys just got handed a logic lesson in responsibility, desire, and motivation. All around the room you could see eyes and minds opening to new possibilities.
This is what we'd been hearing about free will. But now contextualized and personalized.
This is what our parents and teachers had been getting at as they spoke to us about becoming responsible young men.
This would make me own all my actions and reactions, decisions and indecisions. And, surprising myself, that was a concept I could handle.
The applications were everywhere.
I'm still not even sure his statement was absolutely true, or necessarily biblical. But to be honest, it doesn't matter anymore, because it informed and continues to inform many things in my life that are true and biblical.
Do I want to lay in bed or do I want to get to work? Why or why not?
Do I really "want" that sportscar, or can I put it out of my mind to burden me no more since it conflicts with several of my primary wants?
Why am I overweight? In my case, I don't have to be. My bad. Guess I wanted that, too, when you get down to the nub of it. Certainly didn't do the things I knew would prevent it.
One of the doors that opened to me was in realizing that once I got past "my will be done," I could begin to pray as Jesus did, "Your will be done."
Another was in being able to recognize motivation. Why am I going to conquer this lust or pursue this knowledge or accomplish this hard task for God's Kingdom? Because ultimately, what I want to do is to have my heart's desires be the same as God's. That's where he tells us delight is, and that's the only place where we know what we want is right.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Now, please realize, the lesson is NOT, "Nothing you don't want to have happen to you will happen." Instead, it's about owning what you choose to do and not do, and why. What "have to" in your life can you admit is actually a "want to"? What action or reaction have you been blaming on other people or circumstances? Write down all the ways you yourself can own up to it.
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