When was the last time you made a promise to yourself or someone else? Was it to a friend, your spouse, your children, your coworker or your boss? Truth is we make promises and commitments to ourselves and others all the time. Consider the marriage vows which we promise to love in sickness and in health until death do us part. What about the promise to be somewhere or to help someone with something or simply to call them back? How good are you at keeping your promises?
Dictionary.com defines promise as a declaration that something will or will not be done, given, etc., by one. Think about what happens in the political arena when campaign promises are made that never come to fruition once the person is elected. Do you remember the promise ring which often preceded the engagement ring? I knew a lot of young ladies who received promise rings and never got the engagement ring or the wedding ring. In today’s time the promise ring can be a commitment to be celibate, loyal, monogamous, and even a promise to oneself to stay sober. For some wearing a promise ring says “I promise I won’t drink again.”
I make promises to my family all the time. My daughter really knows how to hold me to something I have promised her. If she has convinced me to cook her favorite meal of broiled chicken and rice, she will ask me for a time and date to clarify when I will be following through on the commitment. If the day comes around and I actually cook something else, her expectations are for the chicken and rice and nothing else will do. Not fulfilling my promise to her to cook what I have promised says to her that I don’t value her or that someone or something else is more important than the agreement I made to her. If I continue to make promises I don’t keep she will lose her confidence in me and the relationship could be damaged.
How good are you at keeping your promises? Sure, there are emergencies that happen and it is impossible to fulfill every promise we make, however we can do our best to improve our ability to be true to our word. Here are five rules to consider regarding promises.
1. Evaluate – Honestly think about what you can and can’t do before opening your mouth. Check to see if you have the resources, margin and capability to follow through.
2. Effort – Make an effort to keep your promises by defining who, what, where, how or when you are going to fulfill your promise.
3. Expectations - Don’t make promises to others because you expect to get something out of the deal. Check yourself and see why you are making the promise in the first place.
4. Immediate action – You are better off making short term promises than long ones. The more time that goes by the more opportunity there is for something else to get in the way. Norman Vincent Peale was quoted as saying “Promises are like crying babies in a theater, they should be carried out at once.”
5. Always apologize sincerely when you fail to keep a promise. However, do not make up excuses for why you failed. When someone is expecting you to keep a promise excuses are unacceptable.
We not only make promises to one another, we also make promises to God. We promise to read the bible, pray, attend church and to give of our time, talent and resources. God is omniscient and knows before we do whether we can live up to what we have said we will do. Yet we still don’t manage to comply. The good news is that God is not like us and He has kept all of his promises. The Bible is full of good promises that pertain to God meeting our needs, securing our future, safety, companionship, guidance, forgiveness and rest.
Here are some of my favorite promise scriptures.
· Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
· 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
· Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
· Matthew 11:28 - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
· Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I could go on and on because I have many more promises hi-lighted in my Bible that keep me hopeful and encouraged. When I need God to keep a promise I am quick to remind Him in my prayers. Funny thing, when someone has to remind me of a promise I made, I get irritated especially if I have failed to keep my promise. Unlike us, God loves to be reminded of the promises He has made to us. He also appreciates thanksgiving when He has met the commitments He has made to us. He loves to hear us say, “You promised.”
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach