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How do we make covenant?

Andrew  Shearman talks a lot about covenant. It’s one of the themes of his life. When we get together and talk late into the night, the subject often comes up.   Andrew shakes his head at the lack of covenantal relationships in modern society. Where are the great examples for us to …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Andrew  Shearman talks a lot about covenant. It’s one of the themes of his life. When we get together and talk late into the night, the subject often comes up.
Andrew shakes his head at the lack of covenantal relationships in modern society. Where are the great examples for us to learn from?
Perhaps the best examples are some of the really wonderful marriages between older people. But what about in churches? What about between friends?
The subject of covenant seems mysterious to we moderns. Andrew looks in Scripture and finds there are three components of a covenant:
The promise: Two people make a mutual promise to one another. Who will they be to one another and what will they do together?
The terms: How long does the promise hold for? What happens if you break the promise?
The seal: Spouses exchange rings, Irish guys drink whisky. The seal brings a measure of solemnity to the covenant.
I realized one of the reasons that I always
preach the five aspects of a win/win agreement is that it teaches us how to make and keep promises. The main difference is that the “terms” are spelled out a little more:

1.     Results/Expectations
expect to accomplish the following….)

2.     Guidelines
(I will follow these key principles and procedures as I go forward…)

3.     Resources
(These are the resources I know I have access to and
the ones I feel I need…)

4.     Accountability
(I’ll know we’ve succeeded by following this evaluation process…)

5.     Consequences
(What follows when the desired results are achieved or not achieved.)

Given that we struggle with commitment, we need something this concrete so we can learn how to give and keep our word for long periods of time.
Have you ever made a covenant before? Does the prospect intimidate you?

Comments (10)

  • Robert Morris of Gateway Church defines the difference between contract and covenant in marriage–in a contract we limit responsibility and protect our rights, a covenant calls us to accept responsibility and give up our rights.

    Our selfish culture disagrees.

  • Seth,

    Really great post that is succinct and deep in one swoop. As a 17 year “veteran” in the business realm (small biz, Fortune 100 biz and my own biz) I’ve come to expect that many people just don’t have any grid for promises or contracts, much less handshakes. They all simply don’t mean much anymore, unfortunately. Many people have simply lost, or just ignore, their moral compasses.

    Even more regrettably, in my experience, people calling themselves “christians” are simply the worst in this regard.

    As I read your list for the win/win agreement, I just shook my head, realizing that many of the interactions I’ve experienced simply fail to get out of gate “1”, even though often times, much planning and strategy went into the mix. But when it came down to implementing (tactical), the promise to execute vanished or excuses were made.

    Something else I’ve learned along the way is to DEFINE clearly what the “values or guidelines” definitions are and write them down and have all parties sign off on them. Do NOT make assumptions.

    For example, “family time” might be a value that is established. In a group of 3 individuals, #1 might define it as: I work from home, take care of my kids and do work when I can (ie, no work gets done);#2 & #3 I work hard and I play hard, I work diligently until I get what I promised to get done on time and with excellence and then I’m off most evenings to spend time with my family.

    This example happened in a start-up business and was the very cause of nearly 3 years of incredible conflict, accusations and ultimately the sell of the business (thankfully).

  • Thanks Seth…This is such a vital and painful topic. When someone believed they had a covenant relationship but was mistaken that makes one gun shy. I sure appreciate you…

  • It’s sad how bad we Christians can be at this. If we can begin to master the win/win concept, perhaps we can one day actually make covenants with our brothers and sisters.

  • gopal chandra bhowmick

    Thanks Seth, This blog realy a truth at present day. As I am called to be Hindu, find though we are less affected by either covenant or contract. However it seems very difficult both to maintained ahead in this materialistic world. Whom to be blamed?

  • as a spirit filled christian,i love the lord and do not want to joke with my destiny. After a long struggle with lost with victories and failures, i av decided to enter into a covnant, maybe blood with GOD.. if i do sometins, let sometins happen to me. pls is this right?

  • Blessing,

    You’ve already invited Jesus to be your Lord and made a life-time covenant. There’s nothing more you can add to it. You can relax. He has won all your battles.

    The kind of covenant that I was talking about was with other people.

  • I have been searching for an example of a covenant between two people. I really feel God is telling me to covenant with a person from our church but I really don’t know what it would look like. I have made a marrage covenant, a church membership covenant and a covenant with my children but none of those seem to apply to a covenant you make with another person to promise always to be there and support and commit. If you know of one I would appreciate it.

  • First start out by having a accountability partner. one who you can be accountable to and vise versa. This will create that covenant relationship.
    i pray that this helps.

    • Serena,

      One reason it’s hard to find examples is that we don’t make them, or if we do, keep them. Another is that they’re usually private or implicit.

      I suggest that you go to the person and ask to do a “trial covenant.” Make promises for the next year or so that you can keep. And after that, see what God leads you to do next.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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