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Joyce Meyer - Commitment

TOPICS: Commitment, Integrity

Well, welcome to the program today. I'm so glad that you've joined us, and we're so happy to have all these wonderful people here. I had something really pretty strong on my heart for quite a while that I wanted to talk about today in this kind of a setting, and it's something that you're all gonna recognize right away and that is keeping our word. The importance of doing what we tell people that we're going to do. And I just want to say to all of you that are watching today, I want you to really take this teaching today very, very serious because we expect God to keep his word, and we expect other people to keep their word. I mean how many of you when somebody tells you they're gonna do something, you, you know, you really want them to do it? And how many of you can even get a little bit miffed if, you know, they don't?

And so we actually know that the way to have a good harvest is to sow good seed. And I think there's several things that causes the problems that we have in our society today in this area which I think we all know it's pretty widespread that it's very difficult today to get people to say what they're gonna do and then actually do what they said. Everything from "I'll call you back tomorrow," you know, to actually making an appointment and then not showing up for it. And I think one of the things that's a problem is we don't have a lot of teaching today on integrity and excellence. And actually keeping your word is one of the very basic guidelines of being an honest person.

And I'm gonna say a couple things today that might sound even shocking. I don't mean it to but I think sometimes we have to kind of shake ourselves into reality. And the reality is is the Bible says that we're not supposed to lie. And if we tell somebody we're gonna do something and then we don't do it and we don't bother to communicate, then actually we are lying. I mean it's one of the foundational problems of not being an honest person. And, you know, even in the earlier years of my life, things have changed so much from then as far as the way people handle commitments and the way they communicate or the way they don't communicate.

And so we want to look today at some of the reasons for that. I mean I believe if you've turned the program on today that you're somebody you want to do what's right. I don't know why in the world you'd listen to me if you didn't at least even want to do something right. But I think a lot of times we just get so caught up in the way the world is doing things, and we think because everybody else does it that it's okay to do it. But we have to realize that we have to be the exact opposite. You know, we're here as a light in a dark place and we're here to be an example, not to let everybody else be the example to us. And so we really, as believers in Christ, need to set a standard.

We need to be the standard bearer, so to speak, in the society that we live in. And I honestly believe that if everybody who calls themselves a believer in Christ around the world, actually would behave as Christians, if we would have the Christian conduct that the Bible tells us to have, I do think that the world would be in a much better condition than what it is today. And I really believe that in one way, even though people who aren't believers in Christ, they will make fun of you maybe or even call you names sometimes or whatever, I do think the bottom line is if we really do what we say we believe, they do respect us even if they might act like they don't.

And so even just in my own experience over the last couple of years I've just noticed just how fast things are declining in our society. And, you know, I mean I've got whole lists of things here today, but I think that we have to even think about a lot of the little things because I think sometimes we think, "Well, that's just a little thing. That doesn't matter". But the little thing that doesn't matter to us sometimes can cause somebody else lots of work. You know, like if somebody doesn't communicate with me, then a lot of times that causes me then to have to communicate with two or three people to get the answer that they could have given me if they would have communicated with me like they should have.

So we can't be lazy. We can't just do what the world does. We have to be in the world, but not of the world. And I really want to stress today the importance of doing what you tell people you're going to do. I'm a say it two or three times. It is extremely important to do what we tell people we're going to do. If you tell somebody, "I'll call you tomorrow," call them tomorrow. If you tell somebody, "I'll call you in an hour," then don't call them in 3 hours. Call them in an hour.

I had a situation just last week where somebody said, "I will call you back within an hour". Well, 2-1/2 hours later, I had to call them. "Oh, I was just gonna call you". Well, for me what that meant was I was having to make sure I had my phone with me every single place that I went. And so it was kind of narrowing down my life and taking my freedom to try to be a person of integrity on my end to actually be there to answer the call when they did call me back. And things like that are just frustrating. They're just not good. I recall several situations where we have an appointment for a repair and maybe somebody takes off a half a day of vacation to be home for that repair. You ever have to do that? You have something break down so you have to take time off from work to be there and then they just don't show up. Just no show. No call, no show. And then you're calling trying to find out what's going on. "Oh, the schedule was just overloaded and we just couldn't make it today". Well, why couldn't you call me and tell me that? So then you have to reschedule.

And I just think that the sloppy attitude that people have about doing what they say they're going to do needs to be confronted. And because I do, by the grace and the mercy of God, have access to so many people through this television program, I just really felt strongly that it was something that I needed to just bring up and talk about. You know the Bible teaches us that we are to be people of integrity. And the sad thing is is that today, honestly, you can ask some people from our, you know, the generation that we're living in, and they don't even know what it means. It's like, "What is that"?

And so integrity means to be whole and complete. I love that. It also has some indications in it that it has something to do with prosperity. And, you know, we all want to prosper. We all want God to bless us, but I don't know that we're gonna experience those blessings if we don't at least learn how to keep our word. And the word "Integrity" is just a word that means to be honest, to do what you say you're gonna do, to keep your commitments and that always means that you can't just do what you feel like doing. You have to do, or you get to do what you know is right. You know, one of the privileges that we have as believers in Christ is we know that we don't have to walk in the soul, which is our mind, will and emotions. I'm not a prisoner to having to do what I feel like doing. Thank God. I can do what I know is right no matter how I feel, and that's when the blessings of God come along.

You know, it's a problem to not ever be committed but it's also a problem to overcommit. And I think some of the reason why even like service people don't show up when they're supposed to is so many people out in the world, there's so much more intent now on quantity than quality. You know, it's having more business. It's not necessarily about taking proper care of the business you have. It's just having more business. And everybody can only do a certain amount and we reach our limit, we reach our limit. And then, you start having to make bad choices or you feel so pressured that you're not even making choices at all. You're just doing whatever puts the most pressure on you.

So we need to really make sure that we think about our commitments, that we think through what we're doing and always leave a little bit of wiggle room. We know that we all get in trouble, even in getting to work on time, which is another integrity point, if we plan everything to the last second as if nothing could possibly go wrong because the bottom line is pretty much always something is gonna happen that you weren't planning on. So we don't know what integrity is. We get overcommitted. We don't count the cost of what we're saying yes to. And I'll give you an example in my own life.

Now I've come a long way in this area because this is one of the first things that God really began to teach us. And when we first started the ministry, Dave and I, God really dealt with me one day that "Three things I'm gonna put on your heart to do and if you do these three things, you're gonna be blessed. Be a person of integrity. Do what you say you're gonna do. Do what you do with excellence". And we're gonna talk more about that in another teaching. "And keep the strife out of your life and out of your ministry". And I can honestly say that we have really tried very hard to be faithful to those principles and God has obviously blessed us. So over the years I've taught a fair amount on these kinds of different things and I've learned a lot of things.

So let's just talk about some of the things. Let's just say that when you get married, you promise your spouse that you'll be faithful. Well, we know we have a big problem with that in society today. When you buy something and you're gonna make payments on it, you're promising to pay those bills on time and to pay them off in full. Yet people filing bankruptcy is just like so over the top, it's amazing. Now is there ever a time when a person might have to do that? Yes, perhaps. But these kinds of things need to be not the norm. They need to be the thing that you only do when you absolutely have no other choice, not when it's just the convenient thing to do. You make an appointment somewhere at a specific time, but you just don't get there. You know some people are late all the time.

This morning before I came, it was my day to get my hair done. And I asked the girl that does my hair as a business owner I said, "Do you have a problem with people canceling appointments at the very last minute which then costs you money because you don't have time to rebook the time? And do you have a problem with people just not showing up at all"? She said, "You gotta be kidding". She said, "That just goes on all the time. That's just part of it". And see, that's really it's like we're being rude. We're being inconsiderate. We're not showing respect for other people. And really the message that we're giving to somebody else is, "You know what? You're not important enough to me for me to do what I'm telling you that I'm gonna do. You can wait on me and it doesn't matter because I'm really important so I'll just get there whenever I feel like getting there".

And I know I'm probably, you know, some people at home, you're probably thinking about changing the channel right now. Well, don't, you know? Because if you'll just listen, I think this can be life changing for you. I still remember a woman that listened to a whole series that I had on excellence and she said, "I had no idea what it even meant to be an excellent person. I didn't even know that I wasn't an excellent person because my parents never taught me anything like this". And she said, "Listening to those teachings and applying those principles in my life have totally changed my life, totally and completely changed my life". We serve an excellent God. We serve an excellent God, and he has told us to be excellent people. And as I said, we're gonna talk about that a little bit more in another teaching.

Let's just say that you tell somebody you'll call them back in an hour and you don't. You said you'd call next week to make dinner arrangements and you don't. Well, even though I've come a long way, one of the things that I still get occasionally is what I call loose mouth disease. And what that is, is you're with somebody and, I don't know, maybe you're feeling kind of chipper that day and you know it's just, you're just talking and you don't even know really what you're saying. And so you say, "Hey, we need to get together sometime for dinner". "Oh yeah, that's a great idea". "Okay, I'll call ya". And we don't even really maybe even like the person that much. The last thing we want to do is take time in our already overloaded schedule to have dinner with them because we're not even spending time with our kids, you know, let alone take somebody else to dinner. And so we just blow that off like that's no big thing.

Well, you know, can I just say plainly God doesn't like that? It's not a good thing to do. It's not a cool thing to do. And I remember one of the first times that God started teaching me, 'cause the only way you learn your lesson is to have to go ahead and do what you said you were gonna do, no matter how much you don't want to. And then when it costs you, then you start getting a little bit better about being careful about what you say. Actually the Bible says, "Swear to your own hurt and change not". And see, that swear to your own hurt, what does that mean? Well, that means I swear. I give my word. And even if it hurts me or costs me, I'm going to keep my word and change not.

Now, there are times where we absolutely cannot do what we said that we're gonna do, but all that really takes is some decent communication. Even if you have to call somebody and say, "You know what? I opened my mouth and said I would do that but to be honest, I didn't really think it through. And I either can't do it or it's not gonna be wise for me to do it. Would you release me"? Give them the opportunity to release you from that responsibility. People are not gonna say, "No, I'm not gonna release you. You have to do it". We don't like to do that. We don't want to admit that we made mistakes.

One of the people that I asked some questions is somebody who manages a lot of people. And I said, "Do you find that a lot of the people that you manage don't keep their word"? And the person said, "It's not so much that". Because they work in a Christian organization. But she said, "I think a lot of times people are afraid of getting in trouble, so they don't communicate about something that they should communicate about which then ends up causing somebody else trouble". Or instead of being open and honest and really just saying, "Well, I made a mistake or I forgot," you know? "The project is not done on time because to be honest, I forget or I didn't start in time," they hide it under four or five layers of excuses. And, you know, anytime that we do that, then we're just keeping ourselves buried in the problem because the best way to get over something is to just say, "I didn't do what I should have done".

And it's actually good for us to have to look somebody else in the eye and say, "I did not do what I should have done". Because then it embarrasses you and it brings you to the point where you're like, "I don't want to go through that again". So I found in my life, if I have a strong commitment to God, even a stronger commitment to God than I do to people to keep my word, that then if I tell somebody I'm gonna do something, then I'm gonna have to do it to keep my relationship right with God or I'm gonna have to confess and just say, "I just never should have said that. Will you release me"?

So years ago, many, many years ago, probably 30 years ago when I was first learning this, we were in Florida and we were visiting a church there. I was ministering there, and we struck up a pretty decent relationship with one of the pastors on the staff and his wife. And they were very cordial to us when we would come down, and I'd been there several times and they would take us around and show us things in the city and what not. So one day I just said - how many of you know what I just said? How many of you know what that means, you know? That means I didn't think about it. I certainly didn't pray about it. I just said, "You guys need to come to St. Louis sometime, and you can stay with us and we'll show you the city". And I went home.

Well, about 2 weeks later I got a phone call. "We'd like to come next week". I said, "Come where"? "Well, you know, St. Louis. Remember you invited us to come and stay with you and you'd show us the city". And I said, "You know what? I'm gonna need to get back to you. I need to check my schedule". So when I started, when I got off the phone I was trying to think, how in the world can I get out of this? I can't, God, I can't do this. You know, here I'm telling God I can't keep my word. I can't do this. And the thing that came to my heart was, "You're gonna do it. You're gonna bring them to St. Louis and if you don't want to keep them in your home, then you put them in a nice hotel and you pay the bill and you take 3 or 4 days and you show them the city. You take them to the arch. You take them to the zoo. You take them here and there and somewhere else".

Last thing in the world I wanted to do. Last thing in the world I had time to do, but I knew that I was gonna hurt my relationship with God and hurt some other things in my life if I didn't do that. And, you know, I can even go so far as to say, and some of you might think that this is a little bit too much for you. But I'm not so sure that I'd even be standing here today. See, I mean I think a lot of times we just really think, "Oh, come on, Joyce. I mean you got a call on your life". Well, yeah, but I'm not called to be dishonest. I'm not called to be a liar. I'm not called to not keep my word to people.

So I wonder how many times people miss opportunities. How many times do you maybe even miss an opportunity on your job because you're not giving it your all and your very best? How many times do we miss opportunities for blessings in our life because we're not keeping our word, we're not doing what we tell God that we're gonna do?

You know, I have several scriptures here. I don't know that I can find the reference for this one right now. But David said in one of his Psalms, he said, "I will walk with integrity within my house". And I love that because to me what he's saying is, "I will be a person of integrity even behind closed doors when nobody's looking". And see, the thing to me that is so important is I could have not followed through on that. And none of the people who had come to hear me teach would have ever had to have known that. Nobody really had to know that, but God knew it. And see, until we come to the point where we live before what I call an audience of one and we learn how to do things that are right just because they're right.

And let me tell you something. When we do what's right, especially when it's hard, boy, that's when the reward is doubled and tripled. We don't need the power of God in our lives to just do what's right when it's easy, but we need that power to do what's right when it's not easy. So I did. I remember going to the arch. I remember doing all those different things. And I tell ya, I'm much more careful now about inviting people to my city. However it's not that I'm totally delivered from this. I still get the loose mouth disease once in a while. But at least I am committed to trying to keep my word. I do find that the times when I don't keep my word or when I say things that I really shouldn't say. You know, giving people thoughts and ideas about things that I shouldn't give them.

You know, we need to realize that people don't hear what we mean. They hear what we say. And so it's very important that we try to be really honest in all the things that we do. Let's just say that you told your son you'd play ball with him when you get home from work tonight. And you get home, you don't want to play ball. You're tired. "Son, we'll have to do it another time". Well, you're teaching your child not to keep their word when you do that. Now obviously there's times when you can't do things and so you explain to them and, you know, all that. But just to blow it off. I mean how bad is it to be standing right in the room when the phone rings and your kid answers and says, "It's for you". And you're like, "Tell them I'm not here". Well, you're just teaching 'em to what? Lie. You guys are good.

So you tell your wife you'll take the trash out. Uh-oh, that's... my husband has this thing about trash. We might as well tell the Dave story. He has this thing about trash, and he likes the bag to be completely full before he takes out. So he'll take it out of the trash bin if I nag him long enough, and then he sits it on the counter because there's still room in the bag and he wants to make sure that he gets everything in that bag that he can get in it. So 8 hours later it will still be sitting on the counter. I'm like, "Take the trash out. Take the trash out. Take the trash out". So, "I'll do it in a minute". You know, that's probably a dangerous statement. "I'll do it in a minute". It is really the best to just do what you know you need to do right now because for you it's like, "Well, I forgot". But to the other person it could be more serious than that.

So we need to really make sure that we try to understand how important commitments are. And, you know, today people are either overcommitted or they don't want to be committed to anything. And, you know, when you give your word, you're making a commitment. "Don't worry, your car's broke, well, I'll pick you up next Sunday for church". So you know why people don't like to be committed to anything today? They're either overcommitted or they're not committed. Let's say it like this, they're probably committed to a lot of things they don't need to be committed to and then not committed to things that they do need to be committed to, like keeping your word to your kids, keeping your word to your family, paying your bills on time, being responsible for your finances, taking the time to know, you know, to balance your checkbook or whatever. I don't even know if you have to do that anymore, probably the computer does it for you. But there's all kinds of things that we need to make sure that we really pay attention to.

And I just think that it's very important that we understand that commitments are actually very good for us. You know why? Because if I've told you I'll do something, then if I don't do it, I'm gonna have to deal with you to some degree. And so most people don't even want to say, "Sure, I'll pick you up next Sunday" because they want to be able to wake up on Sunday and see if they "Feel" likenday going before they give their word to something. And so we need to realize that I think God has given us this opportunity to be committed to balance things in our life because it's safe for us. It helps us discipline ourselves to do what we should do and what we need to do if we're gonna end up having the blessings in our life that we're always telling God that we want to have.
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