I hear it over and over again:
He didn’t show up to serve on his scheduled Sunday.
She signed up for the retreat, then cancelled at the last minute.
Everyone thought hosting the event was a great idea, but no one showed up to help.
Culturally speaking, we have a problem with commitment. Perhaps it’s a problem with definition. Oxford Online Dictionary offers these definitions for commitment:
- The state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.
- An engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action
I find this to be something of a paradox. It’s hard to be dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. that restricts one’s freedom. Yes…exactly. It’s hard. Keeping a commitment sometimes requires making a hard decision.
If we are honest, perhaps we might acknowledge that…
- The problem with commitment is that it requires showing up to do something when I would rather be home relaxing, going out with friends, spending time with family, or any one of a hundred other things.
- The problem with commitment is that it requires me to be responsible to those who are depending on me, and I don’t want that responsibility.
- The problem with commitment is that it often requires some sort of sacrifice–and I don’t like to give sacrificially.
I can absolutely own any one of those statements on any given day! I don’t know a single person who is not tempted at some time or another to renege on a commitment. We can chalk it up to our innate desire to serve self.
But here’s the problem with failure to keep our commitments: it undermines trust and tears away at the fabric of our families, our church, our communities, and our world.
Before we give in to the temptation to renege, we should ask who will be effected by this decision–who will be inconvenienced, disappointed, left “holding the bag?” (1 Corinthians 12:25-27)
Before going back on our word, it is wise to ask whether the sacrifice of our character is worth it. (Acts 5:1-5)
I don’t want to communicate judgment or unforgiveness. Of course there are times when something unforseen arises that necessitates breaking a commitment. Let’s be sure, however, that this is indeed the case and not a refusal to prioritize, to make the hard decision.