This week I was counseling a student about some recurring issues in his life. He was pretty bummed about his lack of progress in spite of his deep desire to change.
This was a great opportunity for me to explain the difference between commitment and decisions. We make commitments all the time:
– I will meet you for coffee
– I will show up to help you move at 6:00 AM on Saturday
– I will read my Bible and spend an hour in prayer every day for the rest of my life
– I will meet you after work to go to the gym
– I will lose 35 pounds by Thanksgiving
– I will love, cherish and obey, and take you as my lawfully wedded wife
– I will respect my parents
– I will not look at pornography
– I will stay sexually pure until marriage
These are all commitments we make in various levels of severity, consequence and significance. None of them, however, can be done without without being backed by a decision to actually follow through.
Testing the decision decision behind the commitment will give you a pretty good idea of whether or not you will follow through.
If a commitment is made with the following thoughts or feelings, the commitment is not likely to become reality:
– How can I get out of this?
– Is there a previous commitment I might have forgotten about that can get me out of this?
– I’m not strong enough to do this
– I’m going to try my hardest for as long as I can
There’s one element that, when added to commitment and decision dramatically increases our chanceoffollow through. It’s called character. I have made several commitments (shorthand long term) that I’ve regretted. Some I’ve flaked out on, others I’ve kept even though I had desire at all to do what I committed to.
When we can commit, make the decision to follow through, and then have the character to back it up with action, some great things happen:
– Our character is strengthened which makes this whole commitment thing easier
– Friendships deepen
– Our regret of a commitment made turns into a great feeling of accomplishment and joy in the task because happiness comes from serving, not from being served