A Question of Commitment

Every good coach demands commitment from his/her players. Every good band director, club leader, teacher, etc. places a high priority on commitment from those who are participating in those activities. Why is this so important? Is it because these people are power-hungry tyrants who want to micro-manage and control young people? I suppose that could actually describe some of them, but the more general answer is this: without commitment, the goals that those leaders have specified for their groups cannot and will not be accomplished.

Imagine the performance of a sports team whose players did not regularly show up for practice; or the quality of a marching band whose members were sporadic and inconsistent in their attendance, regularly forgetting to bring their instruments. Think of the average grade in a class where none of the students actually studied their assigned material; it would certainly plummet, wouldn’t it?

It is not difficult to picture the end result in any organization when momentum, growth, and progress are stunted by a lack of commitment. If this exists in a sports team, it won’t be long before the coach is replaced. If it takes place in a band, it won’t be long before the funding will significantly decrease (and perhaps disappear altogether). If this happens in a club, the organization is not far from closing its doors.

If you or your teens have ever participated or been involved in any of these activities, you already realize the kind of commitment that is required in order to succeed. You have also probably experienced the response of any good coach, teacher, leader, etc. who sees a consistent lack of commitment among those who are participating. Their response – in some form or another – is to remind those participants of the necessity for commitment. This might take the form of encouragement, reprimand, discipline, reminder, or – in some cases – even yelling (I’m looking at you, Nick Saban). If/when these kinds of confrontations take place, the choice is fairly simple for the participants: they can either listen to their coach/teacher/leader and decide to increase their commitment, or they will soon be in a position to find another team/band/club/etc. to be part of (or, in the case of a classroom setting, they would simply fail).

Good coaches, leaders, directors, teachers, etc. simply do not tolerate a consistent and deliberate lack of commitment, and it isn’t because they are mean people; it is because they care deeply about whatever it is that they are trying to accomplish, and they know how important it is for their participants to be committed in order to do that.

But what happens when God’s people display a genuine, consistent, and evident lack of commitment (see I Jn. 3:6-12)? What happens when God’s people have obviously and blatantly allowed other things to take priority in their lives?  This question might be asked in two different forms:

  1. What actually happens, according to your experience in the Church?
  2. What is supposed to happen, according to God’s Word?

In my experience (which is obviously limited), when God’s people display a lack of commitment and someone (an elder, preacher, minister, or fellow Christian) attempts to talk to them about it, one or more of the following things usually happens (not always, mind you):

  1. They admit their lack of commitment, but do nothing to change it
  2. They do their best to either avoid the conversation, change the subject, or to say whatever is necessary in order to escape the issue
  3. They are immediately defensive, and often upset
  4. They begin to express that they are simply “too busy,” due to other commitments that they have made elsewhere
  5. They are driven further away from their commitment to God and His Church by the encounter

With this in mind, let’s ask our second version of this question: “What is supposed to happen in these situations?”

  1. The concerned brother/sister is supposed to do this in a private, loving, and gentle way – Gal. 6:1-2; Mt. 18:15-17; Eph. 4:15
  2. The uncommitted brother/sister should carefully and prayerfully consider the validity and truthfulness of what is being said regarding their commitment to God, Christ, and His Church – 2 Cor. 13:5; Heb. 2:1; etc.
  3. The uncommitted brother/sister should make the necessary changes in his/her life and increase their commitment to Christ and His Church – James 1:23-25; Heb. 10:24-25
  4. There should be nothing “off limits” in these situations! In other words, there is NOTHING and NO ONE that should receive greater commitment in our lives than GOD, CHRIST JESUS, and HIS CHURCH, and we should not allow pride and selfishness to cause us to defend and/or wrongly prioritize our “lesser commitments” – Mk. 12:30-31; Mt. 5:29-30; Mt. 10:37-39; etc.

So, let’s ask ourselves some questions, with these things in mind:

What about MY commitment to God, Christ, and His Church? Do I need to constantly reevaluate it? Do I need to regularly examine it against the Word of God? Do I need to always be open to what my brothers and sisters may observe, perceive, and lovingly point out to me when it comes these issues? Do I need to frequently strive to increase my commitment to God?

The answer to all of these questions is a resounding and biblical “YES.” Let us all decide to be more committed to the greatest cause, work, and relationship that we can possibly participate in, and let’s watch the Kingdom GROW!!

-Jeremy Pate