Be Found Faithful

When we say we’re going to do something, but then life happens and we’d rather not, what are the rules? When is it OK to change our mind?

OldFaithful
Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

Firstly, if no one’s affected then who cares? But anyone counting on us must approve or be compensated. It’s the golden rule in action; evidently, even God changes His mind like this from time to time. (Jon 3:10)

Simply stating our intent (“I will”) is not necessarily unconditional commitment; it’s not always a solemn promise … it’s not a vow. Most of the time there’s an unstated sense that we’re making a conditional promise, and that’s OK; life’s uncertain and we’re free to change our minds within reason.

Vows are different; we’re expected to think them through very carefully and only make those we intend before God to keep at all costs. (Nu 30:2) They imply a different level of commitment and thoroughness, one that’s not inconsistent with but enables the more flexible types of agreements that facilitate honest cooperation in an uncertain world.

Keeping our word is both a matter of love and a matter of dignity. God expects us to say what we mean and mean what we say. (Ja 5:12) This shouldn’t make us inflexible, but like Old Faithful, we must be dependable. (1Co 4:1-2)

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One thought on “Be Found Faithful”

  1. This post springs from a work-related dilemma: my boss recently asked if I’d be willing to sign a personal NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) with one of our clients, putting myself at risk and relieving my employer of any obligation to protect me in a lawsuit. Being low in utilization with no other work in sight, I was willing to take this risk to protect my job, so I told him I was OK with signing it. As we began to move forward with the customer, but before I actually signed the NDA, I was promoted to a new role in the company where signing this NDA posed an even greater threat to my career. I promptly notified my boss that I no longer felt comfortable signing it. Needless to say, the boss was unhappy at having to both back-track with the client (no one else available was willing to sign this NDA) and also hire my replacement.

    Did I go back on my word? Was I unfaithful? Did I wrong my boss or the client? I don’t think so. Life happens; I’m allowed to change my mind as circumstances change and I receive new information. I was still willing to help both my boss and the client in any way I could without putting myself at undue risk; I didn’t harm either of them in the process – they’d have been in the same spot had I refused from the start. Had the tables been reversed and I’d have been in my boss’s or the client’s shoes, I’m certain I’d have understood and respected the change of plans without feeling wronged.

    As it turned out, I never did tell my boss I was unwilling to sign the NDA, only that I was even more uncomfortable signing it after the promotion than I’d been before; which was the truth. When he asked me to elaborate on my concerns in a meeting with the project manager, both respected my position and dropped it. Neither of them were willing to sign the NDA either, once they read it.

    Though this was a tough spot for me, with lots of pondering, restlessness and asking advice from the brothers, through it all God was looking out for me and I learned a lot. Lessons re-learned: Be very careful what I commit to, what I promise: make no promise lightly; keep my vows before God with all my might. Be a man of my word, dependable, wise, a rock people can count on in a crisis.

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