“I Have To” Vs. “I Get To”

“I Have To” Vs. “I Get To”

“I Have To” Vs. “I Get To”

By Steve Backlund

“Then said I (Jeremiah): ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.’ But the Lord said to me: ‘Do not say, ‘I am a youth’” (Jeremiah 1:6-7).

There are many times I have sensed God say to me, “Steve, do not say THAT.” Here are some examples of things I am not to say: 

  • “I cannot afford it” – this most likely results from a victim mindset. It is better to say, “I don’t want to spend the money on that right now.”
  • “I don’t have enough time to do that” – this is another statement reflecting we do not believe we are powerful. An alternative is to say, “This is not a priority for me right now” of “I already have a commitment for that time.” 
  • “I am not good at ____________” – the more we hear ourselves agreeing with our past experience, the more we will believe something that will unnecessarily limit our potential. 
  • “________ is hard for me” – those who repeatedly confess something is hard will create unnecessary difficulty for themselves. 
  • “I have to __________” – this will be the main focus of this blog

Why do we say what we say? In my mentoring of people, one of the most important things I focus on is helping people become a student of their own words. If we can understand the beliefs behind the words we speak, then we are being set up for massive transformation. 

 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2). James says controlling our words will control our lives. 

“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).  Our words do indeed shine a light on what we believe. They will reveal what we believe about ourselves, others, the future, our nation, and whether we believe our prayers are being answered. 

Let me be clear, I am not saying we should not share with others about the struggles we might be having, but we want to avoid concluding statements about our identity, our future, and about other people. 

Now, let’s talk about I” have to” vs. “I get to.” “I have to” reflects a lack of attaching faith to what we are doing. It reveals an, “I am doing this out of duty or obligation” mindset rather than a mindset of significance and unlimited potential. 

Faithfulness is not just showing up to do something, but it is showing up full of faith (faithful). Faithfulness is more of a mindset than outward action. Certainly, we need to learn to show up when we don’t feel like showing up, but the Kingdom of God is not moved forward by good conduct; it is moved forward by good beliefs (Galatians 3:1-5). What I believe is ultimately more important than what I do, and if I have good beliefs, I will see transformation in my actions and influence (Romans 12:2). 

“I get to.” This simple switch from “I have to” will be catalytic for our growth. To consistently speak this out, we will be overcoming:

  • Doubt and double-mindedness concerning our commitments
  • Dead, lifeless works 
  • Passivity
  • Unbelief concerning the significance of what we are doing
  • Spiritual tiredness
  • Beliefs that our words are not powerful

I bless you as you eliminate “I have to . . . “ from your life and replace it with “I get to . . . “ It changes things more than you might think.  

If you like this blog, you will also like “Why God Loves a Cheerful Decider.” https://ignitinghope.com/igniting-hope/why-god-loves-a-cheerful-decider/

For more on topics like this, listen to my podcast by clicking the link below.


Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

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