Everyone reading this has probably heard the statement, “Practice What You Preach.”

Today, let’s have a slightly different take on this and talk about times when you need to practice what you don’t preach.

  1. We preach get a good’s nights sleep
  2. We preach try to not work more than 40 or so hours a week
  3. We preach spend time with God every day
  4. We preach under-promise and over-deliver
  5. We preach ____ Fill in the blank

These are all good, true and helpful; but, at times, with these things we preach to ourselves and to others that we have to and need to, not practice what we preach.

There are exceptions to the rules, regulations, policies and habits that we’ve established for ourselves, our families and people on our teams or who report to us at work.

Everyone would probably agree that getting a good night’s sleep (7-9 hours recommended for adults) is essential. But there are times when it just ain’t gonna happen—new baby in the house, a priority project at work, ER visit we hadn’t planned on. During those times we should not rigidly practice what we normally preach.

 Flexibility is called for!

Keeping our work hours at around 40 hours a week is what we will hear for the most part. Most of the leaders I coach try to keep those hours between 50-60. Once again, a crisis can happen at work where it’s all hands on deck and the ideal is not realistic. I may have to log in 70 hours from time to time. 

Flexibility is called for!

I’ve been told for over 60 years that I should meet with God every day. Give us this day our daily bread. I read about “Saints” who go for weeks and months without missing a daily appointment with God. 

A number of years ago, I had a good friend who was very consistent with his daily time with Jesus and was well-known for his consistent habit of hardly ever missing a day. 

Those of us who new him found out that he had fallen in love and was going to get married. I mentioned this to a mutual friend we had and he said he would not believe he was in love until he missed his time with Jesus three days in a row. We both had a good laugh. 

Flexibility is called for!

For years I’ve told leaders to be careful about what they promise. Better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around is what I’ve preached. But at times, when you have promised unwisely,  you need to go back and frankly admit  and apologize saying that you are unable to do what you (with good intention) promised. Don’t let your ego get in the way. Most people will understand and cut you some slack.

Do this instead of killing yourself and harming those around trying to fulfill a promise you shouldn’t have made in the first place. I have been guilty of promising to do something and then rather than apologizing and backing out, I have pressed ahead  creating  unhealthy people all around me.

Flexibility is called for! 

For some of us flexibility is easy and for others it’s difficult.

I’m confident you can think of  a number of other scenarios where there are exceptions to what you normally preach and it’s time to NOT practice what you preach. 

True confession time! 

I’m of of those leaders who has very consistent habits with most everything I do. I sometimes struggle to intentionally NOT practice what I preach. Once in a while,  I deliberately skip my time with Jesus just so I don’t become overly rigid and legalistic or think I’m more spiritual than others by never allowing an exception.

I find that not being flexible or gracious, not demonstrating a willingness to break or bend a habit or routine actually hurts me along with those in my family or with whom I work. 

I can be hard to live with.

One of my coaching clients is wired like I am and seldom, if ever, misses his time in scripture and prayer. He recently had a dog move into the family. He told me last week that this dog is teaching him a lot about life, grace and exceptions. 

The best laid plans don’t happen because he needs to factor the dog into everything. He told me that he use to go weeks without missing his morning routines of meeting with God, but now missing is part of his new routine and he seems okay with it. 

The dog wants to be with him 24/7. Now,  I know that he could figure something out so the dog is not there all the time, but he views the dog as God’s way of softening him and making him more gracious in accepting things not going according to plan!  

He’s not practicing what he preaches and seems to be doing just fine.

Maybe I need a dog! ????