Featured in the March, 2012 Issue of the Ashburn Baptist News
We credit Sir Isaac Newton with the “Law of Gravity”. He is not responsible for gravity; he merely recognized what was occurring and expressed it in an accurate formula.
Parkinson’s famous law “Work Expands So As To Fill The Time Available For Its Completion” is nothing but the observation and verbalization of what has always been true.
In this sense, I am formulating a law. To my knowledge, these observations have never been formally stated. Therefore, I am boldly calling this Lyons’ Law.
What shall be known as Lyons’ Law is simply “The Law Of The Legitimate Excuse”, namely, “An excuse for failure is an adequate substitute for success.”
You do not have to be on time, be present at all, complete the assignment, get the work done, keep your word or show results-just so you have an explanation!
This law is accepted by most people in our society. It is a working principle in the home, the school, the church, the place of business, and in government. To act contrary to this law may make you successful, but will breed enemies.
Anyone who does not accept this law is branded uncooperative, anti-social, troublesome, unloving, harsh, dictatorial, inhuman, non-Christian, and various other things that are not polite to discuss.
The law is simply that a person is expected to perform his responsibility unless he can offer some kind of excuse. If he offers the excuse, he is immediately treated as though the task had been performed. To challenge the excuse, to question him, to refuse to accept the excuse, is totally contrary to good manners.
Numerous observations can be made with respect to the application of this law.
A person should be paid for perfecting his excuses.
A person may maintain his status by producing excuses just as easily as by producing results.
Excuse-making may be regarded as a superior activity because it requires greater creativity than doing the work.
Crafting a plausible excuse is an art.
A carefully framed excuse puts your superior in an awkward, if not impossible situation: – “quality is better than quantity” – and who is against quality?
Excuse-makers should be promoted in order to test their abilities in higher positions.
Science of Excuses
Don’t for a moment assume that excuse making is an off-the-cuff, unorganized activity engaged in only by shifty people. The whole “excuse science” has been carefully surveyed, codified, socially accepted, legally approved, and is part of our way of life.
All a person need do is say he was “sick” and no questions are to be asked. If an employee has two weeks of paid sick leave, it is assumed that he’s going to be sick two weeks during the year. If a doctor’s statement is required for more than two sick days in a row, it is not amazing that the individual is not likely to be sick more than one day at a time. If a church member says he couldn’t attend the service because he was “sick”, no questions are to be asked even if he was able to engage in other activities.
There is also the acceptability of the “mass excuse”. It is assumed everybody will be late for work when there is a heavy snow. The idea that you get up earlier and leave earlier when the weather is bad is unthinkable. Everyone will be excused.
We have become so advanced that numerous excuses are now in legal contracts and are enforced. A man may work only so many hours and perform only such much within the given time. No longer does he make excuses for limited performance, but the union makes the excuses for all the workers and forces it upon management thus limiting productivity.
Excuses not only are part of business and industry, but also school. The teacher’s eyes are moist with sympathy as the student explains, “I could not get my math problems done because Mother was sick and I had to help with the housework.” The pupil failed to mention that she had three hours free to watch television and had told her Mother she could not scrub the kitchen floor because she had math problems to do.
The fact is clear that we accept excuses, instead of performance. A respectable Christian solemnly says, “I could not tithe this week because I had to buy medicine for my children” – who would want the children to go without necessary medicine?” A believer says, “If I get baptized and join the church, my wife says she will leave me.” – who wants to encourage the breakup of a marriage! A very devout Christian lady says, “I can’t take a Sunday School class because I’m going to have a baby.” But, the same lady bowls, gardens, golfs, and engages in various vigorous activities that would make Sunday School teaching look like a rest period.
Excuses always shift the blame to other people, to circumstances, to lack of time, and even to God, but never to self. An excuse may even make a hero out of a supposed delinquent – “It’s true I’m late, but I helped get a cat down from a tree.”
Excuses are the production of the lazy and the immature. It is a sure mark of a skilled excuse maker that he has an unwritten agreement to accept the excuses if others. It is an exchanged kindness, “You accept my excuses and I’ll accept yours, and we’ll ask no questions.”
Responsible, mature and successful people know that there are difficulties and problems in life, but trample on these as they keep their appointments on time, turn out their share of work and more, and are the people who make the major contributions to their fellowman. Observing the circumstances will always give you an excuse for non-productivity (Ecclesiastes 11:4). The Bible is stuffed with passages that encourage work, responsibility, productivity and success.
No matter how many people you get to play your “excuse game” the Lord will never engage in this foolishness. The shock is yet to come. The pattern of excuse making which has worked so effectively at home, at school, at church and in business will not be accepted by the Lord. “So then, everyone of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).