I’m a semi-old man today.
I’m 45. (According to my wife, I’ll always be her young boyfriend forever, but that’s another topic.)
The older I get, the more I believe that commitment is the magic sauce of all success. It’s the secret ingredient. There can be no success without commitment.
What is commitment?
Let me throw away complicated and boring definitions. Let me give you my very simple, homespun, easy-to-understand definition: Commitment is doing the hard stuff.
All success comes from doing the hard stuff.
Why do we have cellphones? Once upon a time, there were no cellphones. We used clunky, heavy landlines. (For those my age: Do you remember we even had partylines? We used to say, “Excuse me partyline, it’s our turn to use the phone.”)
We have a cellphone today because there was one man by the name of Martin Cooper who committed himself to make it happen. He was an engineer in Motorola, and he sat down in front of thousands of tiny electronic spare parts and told himself, “I’ll make a cellphone. I won’t stop until it’s done.” And he made it. He did the hard stuff.
Sure, it was as huge as a brick. It was as heavy as a brick. And it was as expensive as a gold brick. (The first commercial cellphone was worth P150,000 each.)
The easy stuff you enjoy today—the phone, the car, the computer—exists today because someone did the hard stuff.
We call our prayer meeting a Feast.
Three years ago, there was one Feast.
Today, there are 29 Feasts in 21 locations in Metro Manila and suburbs. (Many more around the world.) We make it easy for people to find God. But that’s because our army of volunteers do the hard stuff—preparing, practicing, coming early, serving God’s people week after week after week…
Here’s my message: If you want to succeed, you’ve got to do the hard stuff.
I’m not discounting God’s power. In fact, I’m counting on it. Without God, we won’t succeed. But from experience, God’s power works through our commitment.
Daniel Did The Hard Stuff
In the Bible, Daniel was committed to his work. He did the hard stuff. Because of this, the King wanted to promote him as governor of the entire kingdom. (When you do the hard stuff, get ready for promotion. And if your boss won’t promote you, don’t worry. God will promote you, if not in your company, then in another company.)
But Daniel had enemies. Some of the King’s other advisors didn’t like him. They said, “What’s this foreigner doing here? Who does he think he is?” Their insecurity fueled their envy. And envy blinded them. They hated him so much, they wanted to kill him.
I want to warn you. When you do the hard stuff, get ready for promotion. But get ready for persecution as well.
Because when you do the hard stuff, you stand out. You make waves. And you attract enemies. Why? Because you live in a world where everyone likes to do the easy stuff. When you do the hard stuff, you make everyone else look bad.
So Daniel’s enemies manipulated the King. They flattered him. They told him, “You’re so handsome, King. Your shirt fits you. We like your hair. You smell nice. You know what? You’re not a man, you’re a god. Oh King, decree a new law and prohibit anyone from praying to any god except you! And anyone caught should be executed.” It was a trick to kill Daniel. They knew that Daniel wouldn’t stop praying to his God.
And that was exactly what happened.
Daniel was committed to God. In fact, the reason why he was committed to his work was because he was committed to God.
God Honors Our Commitment
Praying was easy for Daniel.
But when that crazy law was made, praying became hard.
But Daniel kept doing the hard stuff.
That was commitment.
And Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den.
In a miniscule way, I can relate. When I went to Bangkok, I walked into a cage with a real live, gigantic Siberian Tiger. (Oh, the crazy things we do to get a photo to post on facebook!) Yes, there was a chain around his neck, held firmly by his trainer, and the big cat probably took a couple of sleeping pills. But it was still scary.
But Daniel was thrown to a pit with hungry lions. (Plural.) Perhaps there were 10 ferocious beasts that hadn’t eaten for a week.
But God rescued Daniel. He turned those lions into kittens. He shut their mouths. All of a sudden, they weren’t hungry. I don’t know what Daniel did. Daniel was vegetarian so he probably lectured them on vegetarianism. (That never worked because after a few hours, the lions ate his enemies.) And Daniel was saved.
The point? I believe that God honors those who are committed to Him.
Today, you may feel as though you’re in a pit with huge, hungry lions around you. You’re surrounded by big problems that are ready to eat you alive. You feel you have no hope.
But friend, God honors your commitment to Him. God will shut the mouths of lions. God will rescue you. God will see you through. God will deliver you. You’ll overcome. You’ll win. Remain committed to Him. And you’ll witness how God will honor your commitment.
God Cannot Fully Use You Without Commitment
Let me give you an analogy.
You’re the boat. God’s power is the wind that will push the boat. And your commitment is the sail of the boat. It’s your commitment that catches the power of God.
The power of God is always available to you.
But are you using that power?
Mind you, without the sails, the wind can still push the boat. But it’ll be very slow. It’s your commitment that uses the power of God to do great things.
God cannot fully use a person who isn’t committed.
Do you want to do great things?
Be committed to your dreams.
Every success in the world happens because of commitment.
Henry Ford is known as one of the richest men in history. But five times in his life, the man failed in business and became totally bankrupt. But Henry Ford didn’t stop. He kept doing the hard stuff. Finally, he built the Ford Motor company—now the second biggest carmaker in America. What made Henry Ford succeed? Commitment.
Rowland Macy failed in 7 businesses. Can you imagine how depressing that was? But he had commitment. He didn’t stop. Finally, he built a store named Macy’s in New York. The rest is history. Macy’s is now the largest department store in the world. It has 800 giant stores in America. What made Rowland Macy build his store after failing 7 times? Commitment.
Col. Sanders was rejected 1009 times by restaurants who didn’t like his fried chicken recipe. He later built KFC, which has 20,000 restaurants all over the world. What made Col. Sanders go knocking on the doors of 1009 restaurants, selling his fried chicken recipe? Commitment.
Stephen King submitted his book manuscripts to 30 publishers. All rejected his book. He was so discouraged, he threw away the manuscript in the trashcan. But his wife picked it up and mailed it to another publisher. They accepted it. Today, Stephen King has written 49 books and has sold 350 million copies. What made Stephen King submit his manuscript to 30 publishers? And what made his wife pick up the manuscript from the trash to submit it to one more publisher? Commitment.
Friend, it’s always commitment that will make you succeed.
Here’s another definition: Commitment is stickability amidst difficulty.
What dreams in your life have not yet come true?
Do you want to be wealthy? You need to be committed. You can’t be wishy-washy. You need to be committed to increasing your financial IQ; You need to be committed to living simply, discerning your wants vs. your needs; You need to be committed to investing a part of your income every month for the next 20 years.
Do you want to be healthy? You need to be committed to eating fruits and veggies. You need to be committed to exercise. You need to be committed to avoiding useless stress.
Do you want a fantastic family? You need to be committed to spending time together. You need to be committed to communicating from the heart, expressing love in practical ways, and forgiving each other.
Do you want to be successful in your spiritual life? Same thing. You need to be committed too.
Relationships Die Without Commitment
The world avoids the hard stuff.
We worship the god of convenience.
Proof? In America today, the average marriage lasts for 8 years. Sadly, where America goes, the whole world goes.
For many, marriage vows are no longer “till death do us part” but “till boredom do us part.” If you bore me, I’m out. If you stifle my personality, I’m out. If you hinder my plans, I’m out. If you pull me down, I’m out. If you make me do the hard stuff, I’m out.
But no relationship will flourish without commitment.
Let me talk to singles. If your boyfriend says, “I’ll love you as long as I feel like loving you,” will you marry him?
I hope not. Run away from someone who can’t commit. Because the basis of a successful relationship isn’t compatibility but commitment.
And as a Christian, you need to be committed to two very important relationships…
First: Be Committed To God
For many people, God is like the fire extinguisher at the corner of their house. He’s only there for emergencies.
When there’s a fire—or intense problems in their life—God becomes the go-to guy. He suddenly becomes the most important person in their world.
But when there’s no fire, God is forgotten. He collects dust. He’s taken for granted.
Today, I invite you to commit to God.
God isn’t a fire extinguisher. God is water. He just doesn’t put off fires. You need water everyday to drink, to bathe, to wash, to nourish the plants…
Be committed to God.
Here are a couple suggestions:
1.Connect With God Daily
I have a great marriage. (I didn’t say perfect. No such animal this side of the universe.)
And when people ask me, “Can you give me one tip to make my marriage better?” I tell them, “Have a romantic date with your spouse at least once a week.”
I swear by this practice. My wife and I have been married for 13 years, and we’ve never missed a date.
That date is written on stone: Tuesday night is hers. It’s sacrosanct. I won’t cancel it except for a few exceptions. First, if the Pope will call me on a Tuesday night to consult me on some Theological issue he doesn’t understand. Or if President Obama will ask for a conference call on a Tuesday night, to ask for my advice on how to solve the economic recession in America. Otherwise, I won’t cancel.
Because relationships thrive on commitment.
Commitment is the oxygen of relationships.
Without commitment, the relationship dies.
In the same way, your relationship with God needs commitment. Commit to spend time connecting with God daily.
Even if there are days when it’s hard.
It’s really up to you how you’ll connect with Him.
If someone tells you that there’s only one acceptable way of connecting to God, don’t believe him.
I’m convinced God has given you a unique prayer language based on your God-given design. It includes your personality, your preferences, your passions…
Because I’m a writer, I love writing my journal everyday and writing my thoughts to God. That’s how I pray.
My other favorite way of praying is walking around my village and chatting with God, going over my day with Him.
One of my friends loves music. He prays by listening to his iPod and singing worship songs. He swears by this way of praying. He simply loves it.
My other friend is a quiet person. She loves sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour. In that beautiful silence, her soul is transported. She tells me that she meets God this way, and I don’t doubt her.
For 60+ years, my parents connected with God by going to Mass every morning.
I don’t know what your prayer language is. Commit yourself to connect with God daily using your prayer language.
I also encourage you that you read God’s Word daily. Nourish your soul. My recommendation is to use a Bible guide, such as Didache, Companion, and Sabbath. I hear that the guy who publishes these devotionals is brilliant, handsome, but prone to delusions. (These are available in all major bookstores around the country. You may also order online at www.shepherdsvoice.com.ph)
2.Connect With God’s Family
Connecting alone to God is wonderful.
But it’s not enough.
Because He created you a social being.
Face it. I need you and you need me.
That’s why God invented spiritual communities. Church is His idea, not ours.
For over 30 years now, I’ve been part of a Catholic spiritual family called Light of Jesus. It’s been my lifesaver. I meet with my friends each week for Worship and Word.
Last week, I felt very encouraged. After the Feast, a woman came up to me and said, “Bo, I can’t thank you enough. Ever since I’ve attended the Feast, you can’t imagine the blessings I’ve received. My family is stronger. My husband loves God. My kids are serving in ministry. I’ve been promoted twice in my job. You’ve changed our entire lives!”
I smiled, “I’m happy for you. But sorry, I didn’t do that. You and God did all that. You were committed to come to theFeast. And God honored that commitment.”
She nodded her head. “Bo, do you know that even if there’s a storm, I’m here. But it’s funny how my friend doesn’t attend just because it’s drizzling…”
I laughed. “I know of someone who doesn’t come to theFeast because the air is moist…”
Here’s the reality: If you don’t want to come, you’ll find a reason not to come. But if you want to come—and receive God’s Blessing—you’ll find a reason to come.
Be committed. Do the hard stuff.
Second: Be Committed To God’s People
God didn’t create you for you.
God created you for others.
You’re not here in this planet for yourself.
You’re here to be a rich blessing to others.
The Bible says He’s prepared good works for us to do already. God wants you to bless specific people He has brought to your path. These people are your “God-assignments”.
Obviously, He has assigned you to bless your family.
But you have other “God-assignments” that aren’t part of your family. Officemates. Business associates. Gym-mates. Former classmates. Facebook friends.
Here’s my recommendation: In a small card, write down the names of 7 people whom you believe you can bless and bring closer to God.
Here are the 7 things you can do for these 7 people:
1. Pray for them daily
Put the card in your wallet or handbag. Pull it out and pray for them everyday. This, by itself, is a huge blessing to them.
2. Serve their needs in practical ways
Call them up. Visit them. Meet a need. Give a useful gift. Serve them in a small way.
3. Listen and respond with empathy
Sometimes, the best gift we give to people is our presence and our acceptance. Don’t speak first. Don’t give advice first. Listen to them first, understand them first, and show empathy.
4. Share your experience of God’s Love
You have a personal story to tell. Perhaps it was when God became real to you. Or when God answered your prayer. Inspire them.
5. Pray with them
Invite the person to pray with you. Don’t use big words to impress, such as, “Thou art Almighty, transcendent beyond illumination…” Talk to God instead using the simplest words. Pray for the person’s need.
6. Invite them to your spiritual gatherings
Don’t rush this. But at the right moment, when you feel the person is open to it, invite him to your spiritual events. Because you want to give the person a spiritual family that will help him grow in his faith.
7. Ask them to be a blessing to others too
Invite him to pay it forward. Invite him to share God’s Love to others too. In the same way that you blessed him, tell him to bless others as well.
God Honors Your Commitment
Friend, God is committed to you.
His commitment to you is like a rock.
Yes, He’ll do the hard stuff for you.
You may fail in your commitment to Him, but He’ll never fail in His commitment to you.
God isn’t a fair-weathered friend. He’s here for the long haul. He’s here for keeps. He’ll never give up on you. No matter what.
But here’s the truth: When we’re not committed, it’ll be very difficult for us to receive all His blessings. We’ll receive some blessings. But not all. Because many of His blessings only come to those who are committed.
My Story In The Lion’s Den
Many years ago, I felt like I was thrown in a den of lions.
For 20+ years, I was a broken man. I was locked up in a shame-based personality.
Each morning, I woke up ashamed of myself. It was so bad, I was ashamed that I even existed in the world. I didn’t like myself. I was ruled by my fears. I was afraid of what people will say about me. I would bend over backwards just to make people like me. If I learned someone didn’t like me, I’d panic.
I was a big mess.
My lions weren’t physical lions. My lions were in my mind. They were eating me up. I was dying inside.
But God rescued me from the lion’s den. God shut the mouths of the lions in my mind. And God told me, “Son, there’s nothing to be ashamed of anymore. And what if people will not like you? It doesn’t matter. I like you. More than you can imagine…”
Here’s the miracle.
If you told me ten years ago, “Bo, one day, you’ll be preaching to 5000 people in PICC every week,” I’d tell you, “Haha. Nice joke. Nah, that’s too big a dream for me…”
But that’s what God did. He took someone who was very broken—and used him to bless the world.
Friend, maybe life has not worked out for you. Maybe you’ve recently gone through crushing disappointments. Maybe your marriage failed. Or maybe the person you thought you’d marry didn’t work out. Or maybe you didn’t get the job you’ve been praying for. Or maybe you feel stuck in your finances.
Here’s God’s word for you: Don’t give up. Don’t think small. Say it out loud, “God will rescue me.”
May your dreams come true,