Saturday, June 16, 2012

On Promising

Redeemer sanctuary
If you promise something to someone, follow through. Keep your promise. If you don't you will lose respect and trust. And, if you are in pastoral ministry (and elsewhere, of course), you will lose authority.

Why would someone say, e.g., "I'll call you this week and we'll get together," and not call them this week and get together? They could have simply forgotten. But they may make promises to flatter people because it's all about them, and not the other person.

A promise - action = squat.

"Yes" + "no follow through" = "No."

When your "Yes" = "No" you will make the promisee angry. This is because anger is the emotion we feel when one of our expectations has not been met. They heard you tell them "Yes." This, obviously, created an expectation in them. When they realized your "Yes" actually meant "No," they felt anger. At you.

I have done this, in ministry and with my family. I've learned the hard way that just one duplicitous act can make me come off as an inauthentic hypocrite whose words mean nothing. Just one unkept promise can create a barrier that's tough to bring down.

I now counsel myself to:
  1. Think before I say "Yes" to promising something.
  2. Ask: "Is God telling me to say "Yes?" If so, then do it; if not, then use the word "No."
  3. When I say "Yes, I will __________," then I will do it when I said I will do iot.
  4. When I realize I've made a promise and not followed through (for whatever reason; it makes no difference), then I am to contact the promisee and say: "I promised you I would __________. I did not. Would you please forgive me." I've found that most people will forgive, realizing that they are as imperfect as I am. BTW - the promisee that I failed may themselves be a big-time hypocrite. That fact means nothing in terms of what I am to do.
  5. Examine myself as to why I cannot say "No" to certain things, and instead promise people something with my "Yes." I think, when I do this, it is about a weakness in me.
  6. I'll then ask God to heal my inner woundedness that leads me to flatter and placate people with a false "Yes."
Jesus says, in Matthew 5:37 (The Message): You don't make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say 'yes' and 'no.' When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.

Or: All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Ib., NIV)

(If I have promised you something and failed to follow through, please forgive me and pray that God would change me.)