Chapel: What you should know about the 'shoulds'

Todd Clark of Slingshot Group said he had to overcome a long list of "shoulds" just to take the stage at Chapel on Monday.

Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Garrett Ohrenberg
GCU News Bureau

Writing a book centering on the word “should” should expand your “should” vocabulary, and Todd Clark showed Monday he could and would “should” with the best of them.

Clark is a senior associate of Slingshot Group, which provides staffing and coaching for churches and nonprofits. He travels around the country speaking to groups and sharing ideas from his book, “Should Happens.”

Clark said that "shoulds" are "expectations we place on ourselves, on others and on God."

This time, he was the Chapel speaker at Grand Canyon University Arena and, first off, talked about how he views the “shoulds.”

“The ‘shoulds,’" he said, "are the expectations we place on ourselves, on others and on God.”

For this talk, he focused on the first aspect – as he put it, how we “‘should’ on ourselves.”

He talked about how being asked to speak to Chapel immediately triggered the “shoulds” in his mind – he should visit his parents in Peoria while he’s here, he should get reacquainted with some GCU students he knows, he should look up a friend in Goodyear.

“For me to get to where I’m standing on the stage right here with you this morning, I had to battle about 95 different ‘shoulds.’ … I’ve been living in the ‘shoulds’ for most of my life. I really have. And what I’ve discovered is that pretty much all of us live in the ‘shoulds.’”

He talked about how that leads to convening “courtrooms in your mind.”

“Whenever somebody asks me to do something and I even think about saying no to them, there’s immediately a courtroom convened in my mind. And I begin to put myself on trial and present all the reasons why I should do what they’re asking me to do.”

But the “shoulds” are more insidious than simply deciding whether to go to dinner with friends, Clark said.

Don't put unrealistic expectations on yourself, Clark told the student audience.

He told the story of his thought process when he was playing soccer as a youth and thought he should make an elite travel team … then thought he should be in the starting lineup … then decided he should be the team captain. He told of watching another preacher and thought that he should try to be more like that man.

Should, should, should, should. Four of them, right there. Then he put it in perspective for students by living through what might be some of the “shoulds” in their lives – they think they should be better academically, they should be funnier, they should be dating or engaged or married, they should exercise more and eat less, they should forgive more, etc.

“Even when it comes to the good ‘shoulds’ in our lives, there’s not enough time in your day or your week or your year to accomplish even the good ‘shoulds’ in the way you think you (pause for effect) … should,” he said.

What is the solution for the “shoulds” and how does this relate to the Christian mission? Clark summed it up in one word: grace. What Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 should put our minds at ease.

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Yes, Jesus came to free us from our sins, Clark emphasized, but freeing us from our burdens is just as important.

Madison Russell sings with the Worship team before Clark's talk.

“Jesus wants to give you and me a new way to live,” he said. “It’s the way of grace with ourselves and with others. Grace is humble, it’s easy and it’s light. … Grace means that I am loved, that I am accepted, just like I am.”

The “shoulds” are nothing new, Clark added, and the Apostle Paul puts that in proper context in the book of Galatians.

Chapter 1, Verse 6:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the One who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.

Chapter 2, Verse 4:

This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.

“The ‘shoulds’ are so sneaky …” Clark said. “There’s all of these people in Galatia, just like there is today, who said they were followers of Jesus, but they weren’t really followers of Jesus because they didn’t really understand grace.”

Instead, they were mixing Judaism with Christianity – the old laws and the new laws. They viewed Jesus’ teachings as merely an extension of what they had been taught instead of being a new way of thinking of living.

The answer to our "should" problem, Clark said, is not "Jesus plus," it's just Jesus, period.

“He vanquishes the ‘shoulds’ from their lives. … Instead of living in that freedom, oftentimes these people begin to introduce a whole new series of ‘shoulds,’” Clark said.

There are many good “shoulds,” he added, but the bad “shoulds” weigh us down. What Paul wrote in Galatians 2:19-21 ties it all together:

For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

“It’s not ‘Jesus plus,’ it’s just Jesus,” Clark said. “There is no ‘should’ you need to add to Jesus. He is all good all by Himself. … And I’m telling you this, GCU: A relationship with Jesus will free you from a lot of your ‘shoulds,’ and one of these days it will save your life.”

Clark had one final “should” play on words – of course he would, because he should. In noting that GCU’s Office of Spiritual Life has plenty of copies of his book, he said it can help you on your journey of “moving from a ‘should’ life to a good life.”

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].


● Chapel replay

● Next Monday’s speaker: Dr. Tim Griffin, Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students and University Pastor (final Chapel of semester)


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GCU Today: Griffin centers Chapel talk on shifting margins

GCU Today: Chapel: Don't pass up lessons from life's offenses

GCU Today: Moore sets a high bar for Musical Worship Chapel

GCU Today: Demeter shows Chapel how faith can save you

GCU Today: Brown's return to Chapel is charged with emotion

GCU Today: Alumni-led Chapel shows how young faith flowers

GCU Today: Chapel lesson hard, but Jesus' gifts are easy to see

GCU Today: Mueller applies the wisdom of Good Samaritan story


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Bible Verse

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

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