The Power of Promises

It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.

─ Ecclesiastes 5:5

It’s disappointing when we overpromise to ourselves and to those we’ve made commitments to. Why is it sometimes difficult for us to avoid that trap? We often overpromise because we want to avoid the reality of saying “I can’t promise that.”

In marriage, as well as all relationships, when there is a communication problem, it helps to sit down and talk about expectations. We ask the husband and wife to write down eight or ten things they expect in this relationship. Then they are asked to exchange the list, so they can read what their spouse’s expectations are.

As one sees the other’s expectations, they go down the list and acknowledge what expectations they can meet for one another and what expectations they simply cannot do. If the husband makes a promise to do number three, and then can’t fulfill number three, then he’s been dishonest to his wife. It’s better for her to know upfront if it’s something he can’t commit to because when we make a promise and it’s not achieved, it becomes a point of discouragement.

In a very practical way, when we talk about overcommitting or overpromising, we shouldn’t promise something we’re not sure we can keep. When making promises simply don’t overpromise.

Today’s One Thing

How do you ensure you don’t overpromise? Take steps to build a habit of refusing to overpromise. Talk to someone close to you about what that looks like.

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