Remember when you were a kid and your parents told you to do something you didn’t want to do? Maybe it was to clean up your room, or to take a bath, or to do your homework. Whatever it was, you just didn’t want to do it.
So what would you do? You would stall. You would “forget.” You would try to get around it. Maybe you would even feel a surge of independence and say, “I don’t want to!” To which your parent would say something like, “I don’t care if you don’t want to. Do it anyway!” And you would wind up having to do it, but you would tell yourself, “When I become an adult, I won’t do things I don’t want to do!”
Well how’s that working out for you? (Sorry. Guess I was channeling my inner Dr. Phil.) Yeah, we still have to do things we don’t want to do. We still have chores and we still have plenty of people telling us what to do…bosses, landlords, banks, and even spouses. And often, they are telling us to do things we don’t want to do.
So what do we do about it? You can really boil it down to 3 choices. We can try to…
- Avoid it. – Whether it’s taking out the trash or taking on a new responsibility at work, trying to avoid it is usually our first approach. We don’t make eye contact. We act like we didn’t hear it. We get busy with something else. We play dumb. We play dead. We do whatever we can to avoid the time, effort and discomfort of doing something we don’t want to do. But in actuality, all this really does is expend a lot of energy prolonging the inevitable.
- Argue it. – “Why do we have to do this? It’s fine the way it is.” “I’ll do it, but why do I have to do it now?” “This is dumb!” “We shouldn’t do this.” These are the kind of things you might hear from your kids…especially if your kids are teens. But truthfully, we adults present the same kind of arguments, even if we don’t say them out loud. This approach expends as much or more energy than just doing what we need to do, and it makes our attitude worse in the process…which makes the whole experience worse.
- Attack it. – Though it might not seem like it at first, this is the choice which will benefit us the most.
- First – Getting right to the thing you don’t want to do will get it over with quicker.
- Second – Getting it behind you feels better than having it in front of you. The reward is not at the beginning of the job. The reward comes at the end of the job. This leads to the third benefit of attacking something you don’t wan to do…
- Third – Getting it done will give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction which will make it easier to take on the next thing. In his book The Truth About Managing People, Stephen Robbins says that when it comes to workers, it’s not satisfaction that increases productivity, but rather productivity that increases satisfaction. In short, don’t wait till you feel like doing that job. Do the job and it will change your feelings…and you’ll have more to show for it.
I know this sounds like self-help pablum, but when you have to do something you don’t want to do, you can either see it as an offense or an opportunity. To put it another way…you can either grumble through it or grow through it.
The next time you find yourself thinking, “I don’t want to!” remember that the more you learn to attack the things you don’t want to do, the more you’ll grow.
On another level…
Have you ever noticed that when Scripture calls us to do something, it’s usually something we don’t want to do? There’s been many times when I’ve read something in the Scripture and thought, “I don’t want to!” Think about it…love your enemy, turn the other cheek, take up your cross, pray for those who persecute you, etc.
The work of a believer often involves doing things we don’t want to do. So here are a few Scriptures that might help when you find yourself wanting to say, “I don’t want to!”
Gal. 6:4-5 – “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” (NLT)
Gal. 6:9-10 – “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith.” (NLT)
Do you have trouble doing things you don’t want to do, but know you should? Leave a comment and tell us some of the ways you’ve found to push through the I don’t want to’s.
Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg