Do you "have to" or do you "get to"?

I was kind of an angry irresponsible guy when I was 19. And, I really resented my station at that point in my life.

One day I found myself caught up in a conversation with a man named David. He had a really, really crazy life story and was now in recovery from alcoholism. At the height of (or rather, the depth of) his drinking he had spent several years living under a bridge. That was before God got hold of him.

So, there we were talking. I was complaining about my life and then I told him that I needed to go so that I could get ready for work. I said, in a not very pleasant way, “Ugh, I have to go to work.”

David quickly replied, “No. You get to go work.

I looked at him quizzically.

He proceeded to explain, “There are a lot of guys out of work, on the street, who want a job to go to. You have a job. And, you get to go to work and make money. A lot of guys would be grateful to be in your shoes.”

It was like he dropped a bomb on me. Something in me—something immature and entitled—suffered a heavy blow that day.

I would love to say that his words reformed my attitude right then and there. But, they didn’t.

However, those words did stick with me. And, for the next couple of decades I have heard his refrain haunt me whenever I come up against something I dread.

… you get to go to work… you get to pay your bills… you get to go to class… you get to go to church… you get to join the military… you get to exercise… you get to get up early… you get to take a leap of faith… you get to overcome this problem… etc. etc. etc.

I have often heard God echo David’s words to me amid some of my greatest challenges. I have even heard God say, “You get to be a Christian.”

BAM! Talk about another bombshell. “You get to be a Christian.”

Admittedly, I don’t often think about how it is a privilege to be a believer. But it is.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)

Not everyone gets to know God the way we do. Not everyone has access to the blessings we do. Not everyone has found the satisfaction for the hunger of their soul.

But we have.

We get to be Christians.

We get to know God’s love and His power.

God, our God, gives us the privilege of experiencing Him and shining His light to the world.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8)

I wish that simply knowing God made all of life feel better. However, it doesn’t.

But I can tell you something that will—a better attitude!

It is entirely possible to know God and have a bad attitude! I am sure you can think of a few examples of Christians you know who can verify this statement.

Walking through life with an attitude of “I have to _____” is sure to weigh on anybody. Yet, it’s amazing the difference that a little reframing of the situation can do.

When I live from a place where I say, “I get to” my days go markedly different than when I drag myself through another “I have to” kind of day.

A little gratitude goes a long way!

I wonder, what challenging areas of your life are really blessings in need of a little reframing?

What blessed opportunities await you that are hiding under a thin veneer of “I have to _____”?

What would happen in your life if you lived from a grateful place where you “get to” live your life and you didn’t “have to” do much of anything at all?

I wish more of this for you—and for me. Truly, as God’s people we are blessed beyond measure. And, our attitude about life’s challenges should reflect it!



P.S.- If you are looking for an exercise that can help you develop an attitude of gratitude be sure to check out the Gratitude Guide.

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