The Lost Art of Commitment

When we chose this month’s word, Commitment, my head truly started to spin. There is so much to be said about commitment.  Commitment to our Heavenly Father, our spouses, our families, friends, church, work… so much content.  It’s a weighty word that carries weighty obligations and has weighty consequences. It’s a good ‘weighty’, but weightiness aside, as I considered what I might share about this word, the phrase that continuously echoed in my head was ‘commitment in the small things’.pexels-photo-218677.jpeg

We all face numerous commitments daily ­– meetings, appointments, deliverables, playdates, date nights, parties, conferences­ ­– I could literally go on for days here.  Some of these commitments are as simple as clicking on an ‘accept meeting’ button in our email, or an “I’ll get that to you by Friday” message to a colleague. They’re quite easy to make, and they’re quite easy to take for granted.

Commitment in the Small Things says Big Things about our Hearts

This week, I’m going to camp out on one of my favorite verses:

Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Otherwise stated, entrust all your work and activities to God so that He may cause them to bear fruit according to His will.

Let’s face it, we all have good intentions, but at times we don’t follow through on them.  And often times we’re easily excused, “It’s okay, I could use the found time,” or “I was so busy I just couldn’t get to it.” In this over-scheduled, over-stimulated, over-worked culture, it’s easy to let commitments and obligations we have fall completely by the wayside. I would argue it’s too easy. But is it the right thing for us?

Jesus shares with us in Matthew 5:34-37: “But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Emphasis mine).

Now, I’m not writing this so we can walk away with a guilt trip for the obligations we miss and commitments we overlook. My Heavenly Father knows I have a list longer than this blog could hold, and the last thing He wants is for me to sit here and wallow in guilt!  Moreover, I am so grateful that we are offered the gift of grace with each breath we take and morning we awake. But I am challenged by the Proverbs 16:3 verse above, and wonder, can I entrust all of my commitments to God so that He may cause them to bear fruit? And if I can’t, am I simply obligated to too much? What would it look like if I were more intentional in my commitments and obligations? Whether joining a team, scheduling a lunch or activity, or executing a work deliverable, God expects us to fulfill our obligations.  Volunteer work, job, church, marriage, home mortgage, a return phone call, a lunch date ­– we should live up to our word. If you think about it, this is actually quite counter-cultural to how society seems to run today. And in many instances, for countless reasons, it is downright hard thing to do.

Seeking God in our Commitments

pexels-photo-261735.jpegMatthew 5 goes on to say, “do not let your mouth lead you into sin”. We do need to carefully consider that our words and the commitments we make for ourselves and for our family should honor God. And simply put, we need God’s direction in making commitments. In order to be more intentional in 2018, I am taking time and seeking His wisdom before quickly responding to or making a commitment. After all, God reminds us in Ecclesiastes 5:5 – “It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.”

I’m finding that when I get to a point of frequently breaking commitments I’ve made, it is often a result of being over committed and feeling out of control – as in, I’m no longer able to physically keep these commitments. This is where the red flag goes up.  It’s hard sometimes to say “no”, as often as we’re presented with great opportunities, or facing the fear of letting someone down. But dear friends, it is simply not feasible or wise for us or for our families to over commit. We must be discerning, intentional, and prayerful about how we commit ourselves and our families. We need space in our days, in our weeks and in our lives. If the only speed in our lives is “rush”, this is a sure sign of over commitment.

It is clearly not a coincidence that as I was completing this draft, I was closing this evening with a talk to my youngest son about Matthew 5 and the importance of letting your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’.  It’s a talk we’ve had with our boys time and time again, and an exercise we’ve tried to model for them.  It’s not always easy.  But as I roll full steam ahead into the heart of 2018, I’m excited to see the fruit that will come from being more intentional about commitments, seeking first his kingdom in commitments (Matthew 6:33), and honoring God by honoring even the smallest of obligations.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9

So, what about you? How do you feel about the commitments you make?  Let’s make it a habit to regularly ask ourselves these questions:

  • Think of the last three obligations you made. Did you completely fulfill them?
  • Does my “yes” mean “yes” and my “no” mean “no”?
  • Can I be trusted?
  • Am I known for my integrity?
  • How am I honoring my spouse with my commitments?
  • What am I teaching my kids regarding commitments? From my example and from what I require of them with their commitments?

I’m definitely a work in progress on this one, and am praising God for His guidance,  wisdom, and grace as I seek to grow in this area.

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