I inherited this mess

David Epps's picture

It’s the bottom of the ninth inning and the opposing team leads by two runs. The team that is behind sends out the relief pitcher. On the mound, the highly paid relief pitcher gathers all his teammates around him and says, “Men, I’m going to do the best I possibly can, but I want to make this perfectly clear — I inherited this situation. This isn’t my fault. The starting pitcher left me this mess.”

Or flash to the Super Bowl. The starting quarterback has been injured and his team is backed up on his own 20-yard line and, with three minutes left to play, faces a six point deficit. Off the bench comes the second-string quarterback and, in the huddle, looks at the faces of the men counting on him and states, “Men, I’m going to do the best I possibly can, but I want to make this perfectly clear — I inherited this situation. This isn’t my fault. The starting quarterback and the defense left me this mess.”

Silly isn’t it? No one expects the man coming on to the field to make excuses for the situation he “inherited.” The fans, the coaches, the other players expect the new guy to “man up,” give it his best effort, and lead them to victory.

If he does, he becomes a hero. If he doesn’t — but gives his all-out effort — the fans will cheer him anyway. People like the underdog and the come-from-behind story. No one, however, can long tolerate a whiner, an excuse maker, or a finger pointer.

Pro athletes, even those who are held in relief, are highly paid professionals. They learned long ago that excuse-makers sit out the game, or stay on the bench, or are even dropped from the team. Whiners are morale breakers who are interested not so much in taking the team to victory as they are in covering their own behinds in case they don’t perform up to expectations.

It’s one thing to whine and moan privately to those who are personally close ... a spouse or trusted friend, perhaps. But to announce to the listening world, “Give me a break. This isn’t my fault. I inherited this situation. It’s my predecessor’s fault,” is the action of someone that is not yet ready for prime time.

The athlete, the business person, the politician, the pastor — everyone who desires leadership roles — have sought the positions they hold. No one put a gun to their heads and said, “You will pitch in the World Series.” No one kidnapped their families and said, “You will seek to be a Congressman, a Senator, or President.”

No, they all wanted the job and they wanted it desperately. They worked hard to get where they are. And nearly everybody inherits some sort of mess from those who went before.

Everyone knows when the team is behind or when the political situation is not the best as the new guy comes on to the scene. The expectation, however, is that the person will perform, give 100 percent, and leave the field having done all there was to do.

Blame-placing and finger-pointing is playground stuff, not the behavior of a professional.

If a person is not up to the job, then don’t seek it ... or resign. Or even, better, “man up,” accept the burden, quit making excuses, and play to win!
Rocky Balboa didn’t win the championship in the first film, yet people in the theaters cheered his effort and heroism. There is no courage in whining and finger pointing. Rocky didn’t make excuses; Rocky fought and, in giving his all, became a hero.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org.]