All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
― Matthew 5:37
Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.
― James 5:12
Your word is your honor. If you say you’re going to do something, then you need to do it.
― Joyce Meyer
Keep every promise you make, and only make promises you can keep.
― Anthony Hitt
As you go through life, do everything you can to make your word your bond. If you tell someone you’re going to do something make sure you do it, otherwise, you will lose their respect and your own along the way.
Keeping your word is tied to the big promises, small promises, and everything in between.
In our world, we tend to pay attention to the big promises people make, as we should. The big promises we break are especially devastating to others and our own integrity when we don’t keep them.
Related to how breaking a big promise hurts others, Richard Paul Evans said, “Broken vows are like broken mirrors. They leave those who held to them bleeding and staring at fractured images of themselves.”
Related to how breaking a big promise damages your own integrity, Brian Tracy said, “Integrity is the most valuable and respected quality of leadership. Always keep your word.”
At the same time, I think it’s important to not minimize it when we break small promises.
If someone can’t trust you to follow through on your small promises, how are they going to trust you to follow through on the big ones? So, whether it’s telling someone you’ll call them back, write a letter of recommendation, meet them for lunch, pick them up at the airport, or take them to get their car at the dealership, make sure you follow through on your promise.
A few other things to keep in mind related to the promises you make.
First, don’t make promises you don’t have the time to carry out. For example, if you already have a thousand things on your plate, don’t tell a friend you’ll come over and help paint their house or watch their kids five nights a week. If you don’t have the time, don’t make a promise you can’t keep.
Second, don’t make a promise that you don’t have the ability to carry out. For example, don’t promise a friend you’ll help them with their computer if you have no computer competency. All you’re going to do is waste their time and yours.
Third, under promise and over deliver. Football coach Lou Holtz said, “Don’t ever promise more than you can deliver, but always deliver more than you promise.” Far too often we over-promise and under-deliver, doing harm to the other person and ourselves.
Fourth, be careful to avoid quickly responding to someone’s need. Ask for time to think it over so that you don’t impulsively say yes to things that, upon further review of the play, you had neither the time nor talent to do. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was wise to observe, “Those that are most slow in making a promise are the most faithful in the performance of it.”
Fifth, say no as often as you say yes. You want to avoid the extremes here, always saying yes or always saying no. Carl Jung put it this way, “The man who promises everything is sure to fulfil nothing, and everyone who promises too much is in danger of using evil means in order to carry out his promises, and is already on the road to perdition.”
Sixth, once you make a promise, carry it out as soon as you can. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. As Norman Vincent Peale humorously put it, “Promises are like crying babies in a theater; they should be carried out at once.”
Seventh, make sure you see a promise as something sacred, holy ground if you will. God’s promises to us are sacred—that’s how seriously He takes what He promises us. I think God wants us to take see our promises as sacred as well. John David Rockefeller wisely observed, “I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man’s word should be as good as his bond; that character — not wealth or power or position — is of supreme worth.”
Eighth, don’t put others in the position of having to ask you to remind you of your promise or get you to fulfill it. That’s not their job. If you have to, write down the promises you make, who you made them to, and when you said you would fulfill them.
Finally, always keep in mind the positive impact of fulfilling a promise on others. Like I mentioned above, breaking a promise leaves people “bleeding and staring at fractured images of themselves.
The flip side of that is keeping a promise can help give people a sense of stability and value in a world that offers very little of either. Lewis Smedes put it this way, “Some people still make promises and keep their word. When they do, they help make life around them more stably human.”
People need safety and security in this world to the degree that the world can provide it. When we keep our promises, we are helping others to have that sense of safety and security. When we don’t, we make other people’s lives more unsafe and insecure.
Munchkins, do the best job you can of fulfilling the promises you make. Try to make every yes, your yes, and every no, your no.
- Make promises you have the time and ability to carry out.
- Make promises that you can over-deliver on.
- Make promises that are well-considered before you make them.
- Make promises and don’t make promises in as balanced of a way as possible.
- Make promises that you follow through on quickly.
Remind yourself of the promises you make and when you’re going to act on them. And, when you make a promise, keep in mind how it will impact the other person if you don’t follow through.