Nov 14, 2007

Man of Your Word

Hold on to your britches. You actually do see posts two days in a row. You best watch out. I may go on a posting tirade and be an ever-present presence on the internets.

This morning, my sweet little daughter put me in my place. She going to be four in December, but I often forget this, since she acts pretty similar to her six year old brother. Anyway, brother is sick with pneumonia and has to miss school for a couple days. So I was taking her by herself to class this morning. We're having a ball in the van, as we usually do. When we get to the school, I ask her, "Do you want me to take you through the car line, or walk you in to class?" At first, she said the car line, but then changed her mind and wanted me to walk her in.

Now, as the parental unit, I prefer the car line. I don't have to get out of my car. There is no chance for a meltdown at the door. I don't have to park and walk waaaaay across the parking lot - twice. So I said, "Honey, let's just do the car line, okay? You're a big girl. We can do this." She started to say okay, and then said, "No, Daddy. YOU asked me car line or walk in - and I picked walking in."

Spear through the heart. She wasn't being sassy or rude (trust me, I know what that sounds like). She was confused as to why I would give her a choice and then take it away. I sheepishly responded, "You're right. I'm sorry. I did ask you what you wanted. We'll park." It really got me to thinking. How many times do I do that to my kids? Answer: lots. I tell them I'll get to something later, knowing they will probably get distracted and forget. I try to manipulate their answer - or get them to pick what I want them to do.

I know that doesn't seem like a big deal, but how I can establish to my kids that I speak the truth? How can I show them that my word is good, if I constantly am showing them that it is not worth anything? I don't want to have my daughter question if I am going to be trustworthy because I have taken advantage of that trust so many time for my own gain. And what would I have really gained? A couple minutes? Not having to walk across the lot? Compared to what I would have lost - the chance to hold hands with my daughter and drop her off to start her day - it seems stupid. And it will ultimately make her question whether every guys is going to lie to her. And if I constantly lie to them, why should I expect them to believe the REALLY important things - like God and Heaven and Creation and such.

On a broader scale, how many times do I do the same thing to people in my life? And how often do they do it to me?
  • I'll call you this afternoon.
  • I'll finish that project tomorrow.
  • I'll email you in the morning.
  • I'll support your ministry.
  • I'll be there for the event.
We've gotten so good at saying those things and having excuses ready for when we fail. I know I do that all the time. I forget to do things (because I'm so busy) and then have to provide reasons for it so I don't look like a schmuck. And everyone around me is doing the same thing. I can honestly say that there is probably not even a handful of people who I know I can completely take at their word. After two-and-a-half years of doing Defender Ministries, I have learned how little a person's word means. It is never malicious or rude (according to the person doing it) and there is always a good reason.

On a global scale, no wonder marriages crumble and people don't trust politicians or businessmen or lawyers or whatever. Words today mean nothing.
  • Til death do us part.
  • I do solemnly swear to tell the truth.
  • I will never leave you.
  • There is irrefutable evidence that...
  • God told me....
We have gotten to a point where words are useless. I can say anything I want to anyone I want - and if I don't follow through I can justify that. This is obvious is sports, where coaches and players bail out on contracts all the time. It is obvious in business, where executives take advantage of the same stockholders they swore to represent. It is obvious in church, where ministers betray and abuse the staff and members they were hired to shepherd. It is a far cry from the Bible, where we are told to have our yes mean yes and our no mean no. We were told never to take vows, because it was better to never take them than to break them.

I know I have a long way to go to fix this point. I just don't ever want to have my kids question my word again. The cost of that is too great. That's something I will never be able to justify.

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