A while ago, someone rang and spoke to my wife as I was not available at the time. The person said he would ring again later in the day. The call did not happen. I was musing on this matter as this was not the first time (nor the second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth time…) I had been let down by this person.
Actually, the lack of this phone call did not present a problem, but it could have done. How many times have we stayed at home waiting all day for the workman to arrive, as agreed, for him not to turn up? What about the time we took off work to make sure that someone turned up to do an urgent job and never arrived?
I remember the old joke about two promises we should never rely on – the cheques in the post and I’ll ring you back. Funny, but not so funny when it actually happens to us when we are relying on someone else doing what they said they would do.
I recall a boss from many years ago who said he would do certain things and he had to be chased, reminded and nudged gently to do what he had said he would do. I had over six years of being subjected to this approach, and it wore very thin over that period of time.
In “Tired Of Being Let Down? How To Hold People Accountable”, Margie Warrell states the following:
“When you decide not to call someone on their broken promise and ill-managed commitment, you’re, albeit inadvertently, being part of the problem. The one thing you can count on is to expect more of it. More broken promises. More turning up late. More cut corners. More well-worn excuses. More missed deadlines. And more of the stress, frustration and resentment you’d much rather avoid.
“If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated at someone who’s perpetually slack, or late, or unreliable then you’ll relate to some of the comments above. Many people value their promises cheaply or simply manage their commitments poorly. Others have a hard time holding people to account. It’s easier to just let it go and hope they’ll be more reliable next time.
“The problem is, they rarely are.”
When we’re let down by someone and the promise to follow through is not achieved, it might be a good idea to review whether we are guilty of doing this to others. Do we say that we will get back to someone with an answer by a certain time and not achieve this? Do we assure someone that we will answer their query within a certain time period? Do we do anything at all where we let others down by not being true to our word or timescale? If so, we need to change because this is a case of breaking our word and can be considered as lying. Our intentions may be honourable, but the end product is unreliability.
It is not good, or godly, to be known as someone who cannot be relied upon to do as they say.
Wikipedia states that the saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” is attributed to “Saint Bernard of Clairvaux” who wrote this around 1150 and so the problem has been around a long time! They further state: “One meaning of the phrase is that individuals may have the intention to undertake good actions but nevertheless fail to take action. This inaction may be due to procrastination, laziness or other subversive vice. As such, the saying is an admonishment that a good intention is meaningless unless followed through.”
In a study published in 2017 (“Citizens’ Beliefs about Pledge Fulfilment” by Fraser McMillan/John Smith Centre), 20,000 specific campaign promises from 57 elections in 12 countries were reviewed, showing that over 85% of promises by governing parties at least were partly enacted in the years studied with the strongest “programme-to-policy linkage” found in the United Kingdom. The observations seemed to be that that was pretty good but we must note that this percentage was “partly enacted” and the result was still only 85%, well short of what it should be. There were lots of promises not kept or only partly kept. For a man or woman of honour, that simply isn’t good enough and yet another reason why a true Christian must not be involved in the politics of this world!
It is inevitable in society today, which is very heavily influenced by Satan, “the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), that humanity, in general, follows the wrong way of Satan who is “a liar and the father of it” (compare John 8:44). Bearing false witness which is lying breaks the ninth Commandment (Exodus 20:16), and, as the people of God, our word must be reliable and be our bond (For further information, please read our free 180 pages-long booklet, “The Ten Commandments”).
Let us make sure that we are as good as our word and always follow through, doing exactly what we say we will do. Then and only then will others be able to totally trust what we say knowing that our word is reliable!