Commitment withoutgoals is wishful thinking

Recently a friend completed his PhD programme and I had the opportunity of congratulating him on such a great achievement. Knowing he had achieved this lofty goal under extreme difficulties because I’m pursuing the same goal, I asked, “Would you mind telling me in one word how you were able to achieve this great accomplishment?” While he paused momentarily, words like courage, determination, and faith flashed through my mind as I anticipated his answer. Then without hesitation he said, “the word is commitment.

Most of us who have ever heard of the great American leader Abraham Lincoln will recall what he said of his mother: “All that I am, all that I hope to be, I owe to my Angel mother.” (in Abraham Lincoln’s Philosophy of Common Sense, ed. Edward J. Kempf, New York: The New York Academy of Sciences, 1965, p. 60.) But how many of us know what his mother’s last words to him were? They were “Be something, Abe.”

Not only is this counsel wise, but it also expresses the yearnings of most parents’ hearts to have their children be something. Simple term “Be something.” I am so pleased she didn’t say, “Be someone.” She said, “Be something, Abe.” There is a significant difference. In the dictionary someone is defined as “conceived or thought of, but not definitely known,” while something is identified as “a person or thing of importance.”

Abraham Lincoln’s mother knew her son, his potential, and the rocky roads ahead of him; hence, she wanted him to commit himself promptly to being steadfast and immovable in living and promoting deeds of courage and faith in the lives of all mankind.A word of hope is poured out on every generation of people by those who advocate accomplishment, an exemplary life, living up to one’s abilities, and keeping one’s commitments.

True happiness is not made in getting something. True happiness is becoming something. This can be done by being committed to lofty goals. We cannot become something without commitment. Commitment as a word cannot stand alone. We must always ask, “Committed to what?” As all of us blend into various programmes of all sorts, in education, career, social etc., it behoves us to set goals for ourselves in order to reap the blessings of self-improvement and excellent performance in given assignments.

In setting our own goals we need to examine our own needs and abilities. The direction in which we are moving is more important than where we are at the moment. Goal setting should cause us to stretch as we make our way.Self-examination is most difficult. Surveys have shown that most people take credit for success to themselves, but blame their failures on external forces or other people. It would be well, when confronted with problems, to be able to ask the same questions the Twelve Apostles asked during the Last Supper.

“Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.“And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.“And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?” (Matt. 26:20-22)

When our progress seems to be at a standstill, it is well for us to ask who is at fault. Is it I? Am I sufficiently committed to righteous goals? Do I have the courage, fortitude, and wisdom to apply self-examination or will I be inclined to try and decide which of my associates will fail?

William Clement Stone, a Chicago millionaire, in an interview said, “Only if you have drive, the push, ‘the want to’ will you succeed in any field.” He continued, “Regardless of your religious beliefs, read the Bible, the most inspirational book of all time. And learn to employ the power of prayer.” This man had learned the value of commitment. He had the “want to.” He had learned to turn to also God for direction, guidance, and help.

Dale Carnegie once said, “If you are not in the process of becoming the person you want to be, you are automatically engaged in becoming the person you don’t want to be.”However, we must realise not all problems of life can be solved at once. A commitment to solve our daily needs and the reaching of immediate lesser goals will bring meaningful successes. Realise that God will judge you by the way you make use of all your possibilities. It is wise and proper to want to make the most of every opportunity, but don’t quit or weep because of failure or disappointments. Break down big commitments into smaller ones that you can handle. Then self-esteem will grow and commitment toward goals of greater magnitude will become possible. The journey of success is long and is dotted with a series of commitments to worthy goals. A person does not become committed to worthwhile goals just by making the declaration or decision. It must be daily progression toward established purposes.

When one is wholly committed, added strengths and talents become evident. Assistance comes from unexpected sources. Which of us has not accepted some assignment with fear and trepidation, feeling totally inadequate to take on such a responsibility? But with concern and obedience we move forward working hard and praying often. As the task is completed, to our surprise, we have been successful. We humbly realise that our own abilities have been added upon.

Goethe wrote, “What you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” (Faust: Vorspiel auf dem Theater, 1:227, as translated by John Anster, Faustus, A Dramatic Mystery: Prelude at the Theatre, 1:303, 1835.) We would add that commitment has genius, power, and magic in it.

A truly committed person does not falter in the face of adversity. Until one is committed, there is a chance to hesitate, to go off in another direction, or to be ineffective. Our enemies are becoming more hostile in each passing week. They seem intent on not only deceiving the uncommitted among us. Do not be deceived. God will not be mocked. (See Gal. 6.7.) We have no intention of quarrelling or demanding equal time to refute. With Paul’s conversion came commitment. Certainly, the Apostle Paul did not waivered, though they faced severe trials. As mentioned earlier, in our present day there are many who are sowing seeds of dissension and discord.

It is not too late to commit ourselves to living the gospel totally while here on earth. Each day we must be committed to lofty Christian performance because commitment to the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ is essential to our eternal joy and happiness. The time to commit and recommit is now.I’m thinking of a five-year-old boy who fell out of bed during the night and came crying to his mother’s bedside. To her question, “Why did you fall out of bed?” he replied, “I fell out because I wasn’t in far enough!”It has been my experience over the years that, generally speaking, those who fail or fall out of their goals are those who aren’t in far enough.

To reap the full benefits of life, we must fill our days with commitment to worthy goals and principles. There is no other way. As these commitments lead us to action, we will find added growth and dimension which will guide us toward a productive life here on earth and open the door for eternal life with our Father in Heaven.

The word is commitment. To be something, we must be committed.

By: Samuel Enos Eghan

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