Have you ever seen a “round tuit”? Years ago a friend gave me one, a round, wooden coin displaying a circle around the word, “TUIT.” It’s ideal for people who are always saying, “I’ll get around to it.” When they say that, just hand them the little coin and say, “Now you have one.”
As silly as that seems, too often our lives seem to be plagued by failure to get a “round tuit.” We know we need to make that phone call to an old friend or a family member, but have a hard time getting around to it. We should start that weight-loss program, or a consistent exercise program – we just can’t seem to get around to it.
Saturday arrives and your spouse asks you to do some undesirable chore. You promise to “get around to it,” but don’t. (My hand is raised – guilty as charged.) Or someone recommends an excellent book to read, and you know it would be helpful, but never get around to it.
Thousands of Baby Boomers now contemplating retirement realize they’re not close to being ready financially. They intended to get with a financial advisor, or embark on a consistent savings program for the time when they’d no longer be drawing a regular paycheck, but didn’t get around to it. Now it’s too late.
Maybe at a worship service or conference we’re inspired to take steps to strengthen our spiritual life. “I’m going to start reading my Bible and pray. I want to do it every day.” But somehow, we never get around to it.
It’s all about good intentions. Someone said a long time ago, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Too harsh? Well, Aldous Huxley, author of the classic novel, Brave New World, expanded on that idea. He said, “Hell isn't merely paved with good intentions; it’s walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too.” Clever – and true, in many cases.
Margaret Thatcher, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, made this observation: “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; he had money as well.” She was right. After spotting the victim of highway robbers and thinking, “Someone ought to do something!” the Good Samaritan decided he needed to be that “someone” and took action to help (Luke 10:25-37).
Good intentions aren’t bad – as long as they’re accompanied by good implementations. I know the difference. As a professional writer, all of my work to date has been with non-fiction. I’ve always wondered if I have it in me to write a novel, and my intention has been to give it a try. But aside from some halting attempts, I haven’t yet given this a wholehearted effort. Until I move my good intentions into action, I’ll always wonder, “What if…?”
The same applies to the concern and compassion many of us feel toward the downtrodden, people in need. Like the Good Samaritan we realize someone should do something. Rather than waiting for the government or some charitable agency to do all the work, maybe we could be that someone. We need to stir our good intentions into productive activity.
Playwright, novelist, poet and critic Oscar Wilde observed, “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”
The Bible offers a stern warning. Failure to act upon good intentions is more serious than simply missing out on opportunities. It actually defines this as sinful behavior: “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
So if you ever encounter someone who argues, “I’m not a sinner” – perhaps even yourself – ask the simple question: “Have you ever failed to act on your good intentions?” If they confess that they have, then you can respond, “Busted!”
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.