When I was 10, I made a bet with my friend Luke. He played on a rival baseball team and we were about to play them and so we decided to put a “wager” on the game. If we won he had to drink water for entire week. That meant no pop, milk, orange juice, or anything else with taste. It had to be water. If I lost I would have to drink milk for an entire week without substitute.
I know…it was a big bet.
Long story short…we lost the game.
So the next morning as I was about to pour myself a glass of OJ when my mom grabbed the bottle and said, “What are you doing?” I said, “getting some OJ.” She said, “Are you forgetting something?” I said, “No, the glass is right there I think I’m covered” to which she replied, “I don’t think so.”
My mom took the time to “remind me” that I had lost the best with Luke and now I needed to do what I said I was going to do. So for an entire week I drank milk.
Fast-forward two years and I’m at a swimming meet. I had just finished a couple of races and I was exhausted. The bummer was that I had one more race called the 500m Freestyle left to swim. It was a beast of a race and I decided I wasn’t going to swim it. By the time I got up to the grand stands it was very near the time I was supposed swim. When my mom saw me she said, “What are you doing here? You’re about to race!” I shrugged my shoulders and told her I wasn’t going to do it.
The next thing I know I felt a mommy paw grabbing my right arm and dragging my Speedo covered butt down the stairs. As I stumbled to catch my breath, I remember her saying, “You signed up to swim this race and you are going to swim it.” My mom LITERALLY pushed me onto the starting blocks seconds before the starter shot the gun.
FOR THE RECORD: I cried the whole time, my goggles filled with tears, but I nearly won that stupid race.
Why in the world do I tell you these stories? It’s to share with you that from a very young age my mom and dad taught me to honor the commitments I kept. They knew that they wanted me to be a man of integrity that kept his word and did what he said he was going to do. That has stuck with me to this very day.
Why is this a big deal?
Well for starters it’s the right thing to do and secondly Jesus taught us to do it.
Jesus said, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37)
Jesus’ brother James also encourages us to do the same thing when he says, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.” (James 5:12)
- If you said you’d show up…show up.
- If you promised to drive them…drive them.
- If you said you’d help out…help out.
- If you committed to love them “till death does you part”…love them.
Our world doesn’t get this. It doesn’t get it because it focuses on “me” and “I” more than anything else. If honoring our commitment gets in the way of “me” doing something then, I choose “me” every time regardless of who I let down.
In essence we’re saying, “I give you my word…kinda.”
However, honoring your commitments can be one of the most effective ways of showing Christ’s transformation in your life. It shows Christ driven integrity. It is a visual example that you are who you say you are. It shows that you are living your life by a different rhythm than the beat of the rest of the world.
Now don’t get crazy.
If you have committed to cutting tails off puppies or are a member of hit man squad for the mob I’m not saying you should keep those commitments in the name of Jesus. That is called sin and you should repent in the name of Jesus.
I’m talking about the commitments that you make that won’t lead to jail time or personal injury. :)
Do I realize there may be times you have to back out of things? YES!!! I totally do and have had to unfortunately do it myself. I feel terrible about it and I know I haven’t honored those people or organizations well.
However, I have tried to honor them in the way I’ve backed out.
Here are keys I’ve found to doing this in a Godly way:
- Pray about how your decision first to ask God’s wisdom and guidance.
- Never assume that they can “find someone else” or that you “weren’t that important”. If that were the case they would probably be calling you thanking you for you offer, but they are ok now.
- NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, I repeat NEVER tell them in a text, e-mail, Twitter message, Facebook message, through someone else, or any other passive aggressive manner.
- Talk with them face-to-face out of respect and so they can hear your heart. If in person is not possible, call them on the phone.
- Explain the circumstances surrounding why you can’t do it and offer to help them another time or in another way.
- Apologize for not being able to fulfill your commitment.
Listen, I know this is hard. I know life happens and things get in the way, but I also know that impact committed people have on the world.
You want to be the person that when someone sees you or looks at your name on a list they instantly say “Oh, Joe! He’s solid. We can count on him.”
You want that!
I want that!
Jesus wants that!