Commitment costs in the short-term but pays in the long-term.
Kelli Miller and Matt Patch lived and worked for three years in Kenya. They committed that time to discipling a group of Kenyans. Now those Kenyans are doing the same thing with others. Matt and Kelli are seeing the fruit of commitment. Even though they’ve returned to the States, the ministry is growing without them.
Where are the Kellis and Matts in this generation? Have all the options and all the opportunities available to them made it harder for them to commit?
My answer is yes, it has. Here’s my experience with the World Race: Over 2,500 racers have gone around the world and seen its pain. They spend a year ministering to widows, orphans, and those who are suffering. And when they come back home I keep asking the question, how many will return to those in need to do something about what they’ve seen?
Few do. Most return home and struggle to reconcile what they’ve experienced with all the pressures of life.
The thing is, overseas missions takes long-term commitment. Commitment to learn language and culture. Commitment to leave home and all its comforts behind. It’s not easy.
The best things in life are like that – they take commitment. Deep relationships require commitment. Personal growth requires commitment. Trust requires commitment.
It’s worth considering what our commitment tolerance is. What is the longest we’ve ever committed to something? A half year or a year? Consider the notion that the best things you do may require at least a two or three year commitment – a year to learn and make mistakes, a year for mastery, and another year to begin to see fruit.
Making these kinds of commitments is difficult in that it is counter-cultural. All the options we’ve got in this modern day make it hard to commit. Every commitment to say “yes” to something means saying “no” to other things.
The good news is that commitment bears fruit over time. The best things in my life testify to this: Thirtyfour years ago Karen and I committed to each other and our common commitment has created a home where we’ve not only raised a family, but created a place where we’ve been able to welcome many others into our family.
I committed to a group of friends from college and almost every year since then, we’ve gotten together to celebrate our friendship and catch up on our lives.
I’ve committed to my call to mobilize and disciple young people and over time, thousands have responded.
So we’re taught to prioritize options over commitment. Given that the cause and effect of commitment is seen in the long-term, how do you learn it in the short-term? If our culture makes it hard to commit, what do we do? If our culture is broken, will young people be able to change it?
These are tough questions. Perhaps we need a crisis to take away so many of our options. Perhaps more pain will help us.
One of the young women Karen and I have mentored, Kacie Price, was at a crossroads after spending over a year ministering to orphans in Guatemala. Ministry had gotten hard and she was thinking “maybe it’s time to come home.” But God spoke to her about the benefits of long-term commitment and she decided instead to renew her commitment to pursue her call in Guatemala.
I like Jesus’ model. He invested deeply and gave his life. That’s commitment, the kind that turned the world upside down.
I believe we can change the things that we don’t like in the world. It may be a dream, but it’s one worth committing to.
What long-term commitments have you made? What pain are you willing to endure to walk out those commitments? If this is an area of struggle for you, let me suggest that you will grow in your ability to make commitments as you make commitments that stretch you.