Few things frustrate me more than people who can’t keep a commitment.
I can’t even count the number of last-minute texts I’ve received with a message saying, “I can’t make it.” Commitment and follow-through is severely lacking in our generation.
So when I found myself having to back out of a pretty big commitment I made, I felt like a failure.
Last month I stepped down from leading a small group in my church. It was difficult decision, partially because I love teaching and partially because commitment is a huge value for me. It’s an integrity issue. I take pride in my follow-through.
But probably to a fault.
My church has a unique format in that we have small groups that meet around a tri-county area. Rather than the traditional corporate service on Sunday mornings, we break up into groups of around 25 in people’s homes. It takes some getting used to at first, but most people love the intimacy of a smaller group.
I started leading a group in September of last year. Before that, I had taken a break for 2 years during a major life transition (i.e. marriage) so I was really excited to start leading again. We expanded the number of groups this past year so it was perfect timing for me and the church. They needed another leader and I was ready to jump back in.
But soon after I started leading the group, things got complicated.
This was the first time I had led a small group as a married man so the dynamic between my wife and I was critical. The adjustment wasn’t as smooth as either of us expected. It was a lot of responsibility for us as we were still adjusting to life together. Then as we were working through that, we got pregnant.
So now I had to decide what I was going to do. Do I push through it and honor my commitment or do I bail on the group because life was getting hectic?
I was torn because of the hard line I take on commitment.
I get frustrated when I see people bail on their responsibilities. People get bored and they quit. People find something better to do and they quit. People get lazy and they quit. I didn’t want to quit something I committed to, especially something this important. It was a 7 month commitment and I didn’t take it lightly.
I had to prioritize. What was more important, taking care of myself and my family or keeping a commitment? In the past, I’ve stuck to my commitments way longer than was healthy and it had huge repercussions on my relationships. I didn’t want to do that again. I knew what I had to do.
It was a difficult decision but after praying about it, I made my decision.
I decided to step down.
Once I made the decision, something amazing happened. When I went to my pastor to explain the situation, the first thing he said was, “I completely understand, Tony. You need to take care of your family first. We can find someone else to lead the group.” I was blown away. I had never been in a community that walked out that value.
Sure, I’ve heard it said that family needs to be a priority but I’ve also seen the opposite demonstrated.
A week later, a good friend of mine told me he would be taking over. It was perfect timing because he had just taken some time off and was hoping an opportunity would open up for him.
He was exited for the chance to lead a group.
What I perceived as a failure ended up being a blessing. I was able to take the burden off me and my wife during this next transition and at the same time, open up an opportunity for someone else to lead.
I still believe it’s important to honor my commitments but I have a new grace for quitters. I understanding that it’s not always a black and white issue.
Sometimes we have to honor our season of life over our “yes.”
Have you ever had to quit something before fulfilling your commitment? Did you feel like a failure?
[Photo: Ha-Wee, Creative Commons]