Commitment Is Something More Than A Promise

I recently saw a car commercial on television that struck my interest. It posed the question: “Where has your sense of commitment gone?” It drew attention to a number of important decisions we make in life, such as marrying, or buying a new car. The commercial accurately stated that we as a people often will just get rid of something instead of sticking to our original promise or commitment. This is the price of instant gratification. We become a “throw-away” people because it is often too easy and inexpensive to just replace something instead of fixing it; but in doing so we often fail to see the real price that is demanded for being a consuming people.

As the divorce rate climbs so do a host of directly related problems that winds up costing us personally, as families, and as a nation much more than we ever could imagine. Sociologists would tell us that crime rises in correlation to divorce. They tell us that children are prone to have more psychological problems. Schools suffer also as these troubled youth bring their problems to school. Drop-out rates increase, students become harder to manage, and even student shootings can be indirectly related to the result of broken homes – broken commitments. Alcoholism and drug dependency increase which in and of itself brings a host of other problems to our society. All of this because there was no real commitment made when we said, “I do!”

Abraham Lincoln was not only a great president but he was also a wise man. There are many books written about him and many quotes from him that have impacted us as a people. This quote for example shows the depth of his wisdom. He said, “Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality.” Now if you are like me you probably thought that a commitment was the same thing as a promise. So I looked it up and what I found out is that you and I are correct. The definition of commitment is: “a pledge or promise to do something.” – However before you begin feeling jubilant about yourself consider what President Lincoln was attempting to do. As with other concerns of his life Abraham Lincoln was trying to draw a meaningful distinction. A distinction had to be made because obviously the true sense of commitment had been lost from the world long before even his time.

All of this is related to another on-going argument regarding reputation or what a person’s word is worth. Lincoln’s statement that “Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality” deliberately draws attention to the word commitment because when a person made a commitment in the business world, it was usually bound by a legal signature or some form of certification such as a person’s wax seal on a document signifying we can trust this to be what it represents. Such forms of certification or seal of reputation go all the way back to the original meaning of a handshake. When two people came to an agreement they shook hands over it to signify that what was represented was true.

Going back even further if you wish, even the Nazarene carpenter taught us to do away with the practice of handshakes and let our yes mean yes and our no mean no.

Commitment was a word used a lot during the time of Lincoln and that argument over what a person’s word was also prevalent during that time as well. So the word “commitment” back then surfaced all of this associated imagery which made it a different meaning than the word “promise” of his day or even ours. Though technically the two words are the same, commitment meant much more to Abraham Lincoln. It meant steadfastness and resolution. It meant keeping a promise. It was sealed by something greater than a handshake – it was sealed by his or her word.

What makes a person empowered comes from within. They are the building blocks of character. As you face the world today and you turn each promise you make into a commitment by applying the rule of steadfastness into your life, await with conviction the truth that your words will have power. Your reputation will grow and will open many doors for you. Spread the word!