Keeping Our Commitments

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much

~ Luke 16:10

 

I’m often asked to give personal references for people looking for ministry positions. Sometimes, I’m hesitant to recommend someone because he/she has a history of not fulfilling commitments, not following through, quitting too soon, leaving a position in the wrong way, or leaving things undone so the transition is difficult for the person following. Instead of a great recommendation, I must caution the person or church about the individual. However, when people have been faithful, do their best, and fulfill their commitments, I’m thrilled to give outstanding recommendations.

Being dependable, responsible, and punctual are all part of being faithful. When your employer, supervisor, or friend counts on you to do something, do YOU come through?

We all face challenges that require our faithfulness. Even when our work is boring or tedious, we can be the best and most responsible worker they have. We can find a challenge in everything we do, and most of the time success depends on our attitude and simply taking the initiative.

Another challenge is interruptions and the amount of work we’re asked to do. At times, it seems overwhelming to get everything done. We get interrupted by coworkers, phone calls, etc., etc. I’ve met people who simply don’t answer their emails or phone calls. My personal policy is to try to return every message or call the day it’s received. If I can’t, I ask my assistant to let the person know when I’ll be able to respond. If I don’t have time to give a complete answer to someone, sometimes I just let them know that I will respond with more detail soon. When people have taken the time to contact you, they deserve a response.

We also need to be trustworthy with the finances of the organization for which we work. Some people spend much more when they’re using an expense account than they would if they were using their own money.  Try to be a good steward and guard other people’s money like you would your own. Jesus said, “If you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” (Luke 16:12). Do you steal from your employer by showing up late? Do you take too many breaks and long lunches? Do you leave early? Do you call in sick often?

What about those who assume you’ll be careful with what they own? How do you treat rental cars, hotel rooms, or something you have borrowed? Are you trustworthy?

Faithfulness pleases God. It’s practical in the way it’s lived out. It’s a lifestyle that people depend on. Paul instructed the Colossian believers, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3:23-24).

The late Ray Stedman relates an incident in his book, Talking to My Father, that shows the eternal results of faithfulness.

An old missionary couple had been working in Africa for years, and they were returning to New York City to retire. They had no pension; their health was broken; they were booked on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from one of his big-game hunting expeditions. No one paid attention to the couple, as they watched the fanfare that accompanied the President’s entourage, with passengers trying to catch a glimpse of the great man.

As the ship moved across the ocean, the old missionary said to his wife, “Something is wrong. Why should we have given our lives in faithful service for God in Africa all these many years and have no one care a thing about us? Here this man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him, but nobody gives two hoots about us.”

“Dear, you shouldn’t feel that way,” his wife said.

“I can’t help it; it doesn’t seem right,” he replied.

When the ship docked in New York, a band was waiting to greet the President. The mayor and other dignitaries were there. The papers were full of the President’s arrival, but no one noticed the missionary couple. They slipped off the ship and found a cheap flat on the East Side, hoping the next day to see what they could do to make a living in the city.

That night the man’s spirit broke. He said to his wife, “I can’t take this; God is not treating us fairly.”

His wife replied, “Why don’t you go in the bedroom and tell that to the Lord?”

A short time later he came out from the bedroom, but now his face was completely different. His wife asked, “Dear, what happened?”

“The Lord settled it with me,” he said. “I told him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put his hand on my shoulder and simply said, ‘But you’re not home yet!’”1

The reward for faithfulness is knowing that you’ve been obedient, and understanding that one day God will say, “Welcome home, my faithful servant!”

Always know that I am . . .
Your Friend and Servant in Christ,

Wayde Goodall, D.Min.
Dean, College of Ministry
Northwest University

 

[1] Quoted in Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching from Leadership Journal, edited by Craig Brian Larson (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), 197.