I hated Algebra in high school. Geometry, however, made sense to me. I really liked ‘if-then’ statements like this:

 If a = b, and b = c, then a = c.

It works great when you have to find the angle of a parallelogram.

But often we adapt a false ‘if-then’ mentality that can kill personal growth and relationships.


The Blame Game

Remember Adam and Eve in the garden? They used ‘if-then’ statements when God confronted them about their disobedience. “If you didn’t give me this woman, then I wouldn’t have listened to her,” said Adam. Eve followed suit: “If you didn’t put that snake in the garden, then I wouldn’t have listened to him.” (Genesis 3:10-13)

We’ve all played the Blame Game:

“If my spouse/parent/sibling is nice to me, then I’ll respect them.”


“If God gives me this new job, then I’ll obey him.”


“If my boss hadn’t said that to me, then I wouldn’t have been rude back.”


“If God had put me in a more spiritual family, then I wouldn’t be so messed up.”


“If I didn’t have these kids/spouse, then I’d be able to …”

Are there obstacles to personal growth and pursing our dreams? Absolutely. There are always obstacles. But if Jesus had blamed his doubting disciples, the power-hungry Pharisees, or the fickle Jews for why he couldn’t complete his mission, he never would have.


Relinquishing Control to Others

When we blame others for why we can’t do something, we’ve relinquished control of our lives. We’re really just making excuses and eventually, if we don’t take back the reins, we’ll turn into bitter, resentful people with a bucket list of regrets.

In the Parable of the Talents, a wealthy landowner entrusted three employees with a sum of money each according to their ability. Two of the men owned the task and multiplied what was given them. But the third played the Blame Game and upon his boss’ return complained, “If you weren’t such a hard man, then I could have done the same thing. It’s your fault I was afraid.” (Matthew 25:24-25)

The landowner saw right through the excuses and called him not just lazy, but wicked and worthless.

I used to think the first two men were both skilled and fearless in their endeavors. But after leaving a secure job in teaching to pursue the not-so-secure position of full-time writing, now I think the first two men were also scared. But, they were more afraid of failing their master and not living up to his faith in them.


Take Personal Responsibility for Your Own Growth

Are we making excuses for why we aren’t growing in our relationships, fulfilling our dreams, or living up to the call God has set before us (multiplying our ‘talents’)?

Only when we recognize our false if-then mentality, stop playing the Blame Game and take back control, can we assume responsibility for our own personal growth.

An entire culture opposed the apostle Paul in his mission to spread the gospel to the known world, but he said, “If God is giving me strength, then I can do all things.” (Philippians 4:13)