Monday, May 12, 2014

Follow Through

There have been a large number of people who have been unable to follow through on commitments they made to me recently. I completely understand and hold them no ill will, at all. I truly get that in my business, what I'm doing will often come second or third to more practical concerns. Hey, life happens to all of us.

My general rule is you don't let your mouth make checks your behind cannot cash. But, again, we all have times when we make commitments and forget about them, or conflicts come up that make balancing it all out impossible. Sometimes different values come into conflict and one has to be chosen over the other. I've done this, I've had to choose work over home, or home over work, etc.

But I try very hard not to make commitments I know I might not be able to complete. The exceptions prove the rule. If there is a conflict, it is because I forgot something or more likely forgot to program it into my address book. Additionally, when such oversights are made, I do my best to apologize and make restitution. When you say you are going to do something and then back out, it complicates the life of the other person. If you are about to back out of something, try to put yourself in their place and ask what it would be like. What is the cost going to be to them, ultimately?

Some commitments are more easily backed out of than others. That doesn't mean they are the right choice TO back out of. Usually in life the hard decision and the right decision are one in the same. This can be taken to dangerous extremes. It is not always true. It is usually true. But one should keep in mind the uniqueness of the situation, and the difficulty in finding replacements. Communicating your schedule is also important. If you know a conflict might come up, make that known. Commitments that may be threatened by some life event should be made provisional when possible. The entire point is to maintain that axiom: "don't let your mouth make checks your behind cannot cash." This is just basic respect.

But when life gets in the way, and things do happen, the really important thing is to apologize. This is a big problem I've noticed, particularly with my friends who are under 30. We may be talking about it a bit in youth group. Just telling someone you are not going to do something because "something came up" is not enough. Give the person the reason why you cannot go, and say you are sorry for the inconvenience. I cannot tell you how often people just tell me, "sorry I can't make that any more," and leave it at that. No "sorry dude" or "I realize this puts you in a bind" or nothing. It is like there is no recognition of the fact that I, too, have a life and that from my own perspective I truly believe that what I am doing is just as important.

Is this too much to ask? Does a person owe no apology when they make this kind of mistake? Surely, these kinds of things are not usually deliberate, but that doesn't mean there is no moral responsibility involved. If I make a mistake like this, it is through genuine negligence, however forgivable and understandable. I'm a pretty understanding guy. I don't need a 'sorry' to forgive. I usually let things go. But an explanation is usually owed and an expression of sorry at least lets me know you care.

This is a particularly big problem in churches. People feel like those they make commitments too should consider that promise a low priority almost by nature. No apologies ever needed. Well, thanks, but no. If God demands we love one another then He demands we respect one another. And I take this as basic respect, level one.

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