Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Understanding Commitment

A Look At Commitment




Many years ago I began thinking about the subject of commitment while putting together several programs which needed commitments from several people. Now the folks at that time made commitments to the programs and they have been implemented successfully. Without their commitment the programs would never have gotten off the ground. They exemplified commitment.


However, I have met many people throughput the years that have stated desires to help and some even take a “leadership” role yet when it became time to perform the function they backed out or were no where to be found. Now I am not talking about life situations changing which would hinder a person from doing something they committed to. But I want to speak to the “commitments made and just not kept.


It often happens that folks hear of a good program or a described need that invokes emotions of care, concern and desire. Then based upon these emotions some make their desires known by “signing up” stating they will commit to perform duties to help the cause. There are many people who do this and then when the emotions are lowered, or times get difficult they do not follow through and see the cause to the end. I have asked many pastors about this and every one of them said this sort of thing happens all the time and they find it very frustrating. They tell me if they could get a 10 percent commitment of the people, the Church could do many needful things. Commitments and promises are binding and therefore are not to be made without caution thought consideration for all it will take to fulfill the task committed to. Note the instruction in the WCF 22:5 A vow is of the like nature with a promissory oath, and ought to be made with the like religious care, and to be performed with the like faithfulness (Psa_61:8; Psa_66:13, Psa_66:14; Ecc_5:4-6; Isa_19:21). So then let’s see what commitment consists of so that we can learn to make informed decisions of when and what we should commit to in the future.


Christians talk about commitment a lot but sadly, as stated above, many times the commitments are not fulfilled by those that make them. As we learn of and understand commitment perhaps we will see the breaking of commitments in our Church and churches across the United States and across the globe reduce. In order to get a good grasp of commitment it is important to note that there are at least five things which must be in order to have true and solid commitment. The five musts (elements) which are essential to genuine commitment are: 1. knowledge, 2. desire, 3. capability, 4. time, and 5. effort. Lets look at each of these elements briefly.


1. Knowledge

It is simple that if you don’t understand what the thing is that you are committing to then your desire, time and effort will not do a bit of good. You may not know every aspect of the task but you must know the overall picture and a general knowledge of how to carry forth the task. Knowledge of this will give you an understanding of what you are getting into so that you can make informed decisions for commitments to stand and be fruitful.


2. Desire

You need to look inside yourself to determine whether you truly desire to do what you are looking to commit to. At the base of the desire there must be the desire to perform dutiful work. Obstacles pop up their ugly heads often bringing disappointments. Some disappointments bring with them the desire to quit! The desire to quit can be equal to the desire that came with the desire to perform the commitment. Disappoints and obstacles often cause people to stop working and to give up. Giving up is not an option in the biblical worth ethic. Giving up due to laziness or emotional disappointments is not an option. You must ensure that your knowledge, desire, and work ethic is sufficient enough to know what is required to please Him. So then, prior to any commitment ask yourself questions such as these, “Do I have the desire to complete the described task? Am I willing to roll up my shirt sleeves and get to work? Am I willing to overcome any obstacles and disappointments that will arise? Is pleasing the Lord in this my greatest desire?” If you can answer yes to these questions then you are started on your way to knowing if you can commit to any task you are looking at to commit to.


3. Capability


Now this is where many people fail in commitments they make. Reality is when making a commitment people do usually know what is expected of them and they really do want to commit to the task at hand. However, later they find they lack the resources and skills and in order to accomplish the task and therefore they stop their commitment..


This really is that there is no excuse to quit. A commitment made is a commitment that needs to be fulfilled. God gives the resources and any tools needed in order to carry forth the commitment made. You can also acquire the obvious skills needed to carry out the task even if you must take special classes at church, at a technical school, or local college. If you have committed to a task the God requires your fulfillment. But know this that if there is a commitment to a task God requires that task be accomplished and that you develop the knowledge and skills to carry forth that task.


Before making a commitment an assessment of your knowledge, desire, capabilities and skills to fulfill the task, and ones work ethic must be done and understood before making a commitment. The main question is, “Do you have the capabilities to fulfill the task?” If not, or unless there is time within the scope of the project you are committing to, or until you develop the capabilities you must not commit to “performing” the task. This must be since God does hold you accountable to learn what you need to know to fulfill the commitment.


Each task is different. Some tasks don’t require a lot of skill and can be taught on the job. Some tasks have many people doing different things and may be of such a nature that there may be time to put together a program and plan of learning and skill development as part of, or within the scope of the project committed to. In this situation you would need to work with the leader of the program. Either way a commitment must be fulfilled so if you’ve made commitments and need skill development you need to move forward and get the needed training.


4. Time


All tasks take time. As discussed if you need to develop skills to fulfill the commitment then time will need to be set in your schedule. Set the time you will work on the committed task and, if need be, the required skill and or your desire will count for nothing.


If a commitment has been made you cannot back out because you state you “don’t have the time”. Like every person you have 24 hours a day. You must look at your schedule, set schedules and work efficiently eliminating non-essentials and schedule time to do the task committed to. Questions to ask and answer regarding time before making a commitment include: “How much time is needed?”; “When is the best time to work at the task?”; “When are meetings scheduled?”; “When are the best study times?”; Etc.

Commitment to a task oftentimes requires developing new lifestyle patterns. This is particularly true if classes need to be taken to learn the skills to be capable to carry out the committed task. One good way to learn change regarding timing in ones life is to attach the program to something you do every day. For example if you have committed to teach a Vacation Bible School Class, study of the material will be needed and you can attach time to do this study to your daily quiet time reading and devotions. Or perhaps you can use lunch hour to work on a committed task by eating the first half hour and working / studying the last half hour of your lunch time.


5. Effort

By effort is meant that energy must be expended in order to do any task and that includes and task that you commit to. It does no good for a person to desire to do something, study how to accomplish the task and then quit before starting the actual task. Commitment is working a task in a consistent non-sporadic manner.


Conclusion


It is important that you use the gifts and talents God has given you. Your Church, family and others need you to help in projects at certain times. Commitments are a necessary part of life. But as we have seen it is important to make them wisely and with knowledge of all the commitment will involve. And finally if you have made commitments you have not kept you should repent and get busy fulfilling those broken commitment (s). As you committed to learn to drive, swim, etc. and spent regular devoted time to learn and accomplish those personal commitments so also I encourage you to fulfill whatever is needed to ensure you fulfill past commitments you have made. Now may God bless all your endeavors!

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APPENDIX A:


I. A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein the person swearing in truth, righteousness, and judgment, solemnly calleth God to witness what he sweareth,[1] and to judge him according to the truth or falseness thereof[2]

1. Exod. 20:7; Deut. 10:20; Jer. 4:22. II Chr. 6:22-23



II. The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear; and therein it is to be used, with all holy fear and reverence; therefore to swear vainly or rashly by that glorious and dreadful name, or to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred;[3] yet as in matter of weight and moment, for confirmation of truth, and ending all strife, an oath is warranted by the Word of God;[4] so a lawful oath being imposed by lawful authority in such matters, ought to be taken.[5]

3. Matt. 5:34, 37; James 5:124. Heb. 6:16; II Cor. 1:235. Neh. 13:25



III. Whosoever taketh an oath warranted by the Word of God, ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he knoweth to be truth; for that by rash, false, and vain oaths, the Lord is provoked, and for them this land mourns.[6]

6. Lev. 19:12; Jer. 23:10



IV. An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation.[7]

7. Psa. 24:4



V. A vow, which is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone, is to be made and performed with all religious care and faithfulness;[8] but popish monastical vows of perpetual single life,[9] professed poverty,[10] and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.[11]

8. Psa. 76:11; Gen. 28:20-229. I Cor. 7:2, 910. Eph. 4:2811. Matt. 19:11


Quoted From The London Baptist Confession

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