Everyone wants to be trustworthy.
Which is one reason failing to follow through is a miserable feeling.
You know how it goes. You see someone to whom you’ve made a commitment which you’ve not yet kept, so you scurry past, head ducked, as you squirm down the gauntlet of accountability. “Oh yeah, shoot!…Maybe tomorrow…” But then tomorrow you forget. We all do from time to time.
Why is following through so hard?
I mean well, but I wonder if sometimes I make commitments a bit carelessly. At times, I can get swept up in the excitement, the vision, the moment. Or perhaps I’m just too busy to keep those I make.
Whatever the cause, I am really struggling to be faithful to follow through with commitments. So for help, I’ve resurrected strategies that used to keep me in the tall cotton of reliability–a place where my word alone was good enough, without the need for promises. They go like this:
1) Don’t make a commitment you aren’t sure you can keep. Seems like a no-brainer, but don’t be fooled, “…probably…” is not a thought that yields great results. Take at least a day to think it through. Look at your planner. Exactly where, when, and how will it fit into your schedule? Then bounce the idea off a friend or spouse before you make a decision.
2) If the task will take less than five minutes, do it right away. Think of how much grief we can eliminate if we implement this strategy alone! Pick up the phone and make that call, schedule that appointment, write and mail that thank you note.
The five minute task is also a perfect opportunity to follow through on praying for others. For example, if you tell someone you will pray for them, do it as soon as you finish the conversation. If it involves a prayer need for a specific event, make a note in your planner, i.e., “Pray for Cindy’s meeting on Tuesday at 9 am.” Which highlights the next point:
3) Write it down. In your planner, on your calendar, on a gum wrapper–whatever– so you won’t forget it. With today’s packed schedules and frenetic pace, if it isn’t written down it usually doesn’t register. (This strategy has helped me the most.)
4) Schedule an appointment with yourself. When you record it on your calendar or planner, note both date and time and consider it an unbreakable appointment. When the day and time arrives, don’t analyze it, just do it. Then sit back and reap the sweet fruit of a “Well done, good and faithful servant . . . ” from God. (Matthew 25:21)
Faithfulness in follow through is important. It reflects how we view God and our accountability to Him. It also sends a message about the importance with which we view others. (I John 2:5) Ouch. But take heart! Since God is faithful, we have the power within us to be faithful, too. Through the Spirit’s power, utilizing a few simple steps, we can model His faithfulness in our follow through today.
I’m going to go ahead and give it a try. Then maybe the next time I see that person I’ve made a commitment to, I can hold my head up, look them in the eye, and smile…
What about you? What strategies have helped you with follow through?
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