There are few things that feel better than making a plan or commitment, knowing it will be difficult, and then following through and seeing the task completed. On the contrary, few things are more personally disappointing, and publicly embarrassing then not being able to follow through on a promise.
Credibility is the foundation for trust and trust is the substance of real relationships.
In the moments after failure, you may try to come up with a reason or excuse for your falling short. Yet, no matter the reasons, even legitimate ones, the fact remains you didn’t deliver on what you had promised.
One of the fastest ways to lose credibility with people around you is to not follow through with the things that you have promised. Companies are constantly training their service staff to “underpromise and overdeliver.” What that means is that even when they believe themselves to be capable of more, they don’t want any promises made that are not givens. Then, when the customers expectations are exceeded, the customer is pleased, and if the company for some reason only meets the previous promise, at least they can not be seen as dishonest and failing to carry out a commitment.
Following through on commitment, builds credibility. Credibility is the foundation for trust and trust is the substance of real relationships. Simply put, if you make a commitment… follow through. We see this concept addressed in the scripture.
Ecclesiastes 5:5 (NKJV) Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.
While we can certainly agree with the surface context of the verse, as it deals with making a vow to God, I believe there may be more to it.
I would submit that it is better to not make a promise to yourself and then not keep it. Why? Because, every time you break a promise to yourself, it just makes it easier to not follow through the next time.
What promises have you made yourself for this new year? Have your broken them yet? Have you missed a day at the gym? Have you been over your calorie count? Have you gotten up at the time you said? Have you started reading that book?
The point is, when you make promises and then don’t carry them out, it has several negative effects. Not only does the task not get completed, you also find yourself feeling down over having failed, and may sometimes want to give up on the idea altogether. And, it makes it easier to not follow through in the future.
This week, our focus will be on prayer. So how does prayer fit the topic of over promising and failure?
Simple. Do not commit to unrealistic goals when it comes to prayer. If you never pray, committing to praying for an hour each morning might be a stretch. Instead commit to a ten minute prayer in the morning, five minutes at lunch, and fifteen in the evening. Now, you have gone from not praying at all to praying 2.5 hours a week. That may not be your end goal, but it is a lot more praying than you were doing last year.
The numbers I just gave may be too much or too little, they are really the point. The point is that if you don’t set a realistic goal, you are more likely to not follow through. If you want to make a habit, start out with doable steps.
And remember this, Prayer is a discipline. You won’t always feel like praying. It won’t always seem like heaven has opened and God is pulling you into a place of prayer. Finding time to pray is not easy. Again I remind us, prayer is a discipline. A prayer life requires dedication and consistency. The only way to create consistency is to set markers that you will achieve.
So what’s your prayer time goal today? 15 minutes…. 20…. 30….
That is entirely up to you. But whatever you do make yourself a promise that you know you will keep.