In Guidelines for Godly Commitment, point number 5 briefly addressed the importance of avoiding over-commitment. Because over-commitment seems to have reached epidemic proportions in so many lives, let’s now take some time to explore the topic in more detail by looking at 5 approaches for avoiding over-commitment.
Keep in mind that many of the same approaches for preventing will also reduce overload, the result of over-commitment.
5 Approaches for Avoiding Over-Commitment
- Make fewer commitments. Seems obvious, but we often need reminded that being committed is not necessarily about making commitments. In fact, making fewer commitments often allows for increased commitment.
- Get discernment through prayer and accountability. We are too often blinded by our own ambition. Be sure to have at least one second set of eyes to help determine whether or not to make or keep a commitment.
- Learn to manage your commitments. Sometimes this means getting help from those with more experience (Exodus 18:17-27), and sometimes it simply means taking a break (Mark 6:31). Learn what you need to do to keep your commitments in perspective.
- Find creative solutions for reducing current commitments. While no one likes to break a commitment, sometimes it’s necessary. Find ways to soften the blow such as replacing yourself, asking to be released, hiring something done, and fazing yourself out.
- Set priorities. Write them down and use them to guide future commitments as well as for periodic assessment.
Saying “no” when necessary is key to avoiding over-commitment. Conversely, saying “yes” to too much creates overload.
I do not particularly enjoy saying “no,” especially because I often have to say it to people I love and want to help. I feel selfish almost every time, and I have to deliberately work through that. I do this usually by talking with my husband (my main accountability partner) about our current goals and areas of focus.
One of the most difficult aspects of saying “no” is that it means turning down some good opportunities. Yet, even though I struggle with saying “no,” I realize that doing so allows me to be more fully committed to the things I say “yes” to.
Remember Your “Why”
The following scripture found in 1 Peter 4 gives great insight into our motivation for commitments. Knowing your “why” provides tremendous motivation for freeing yourself from the weight of over-commitment.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (vv. 8-11)
In light of this scripture, consider that over-commitment can lead to damaging your integrity hurting relationships and your ability to spiritually, physically and mentally stay committed.
Also consider that in order to “love each other as if your life depended on it” you can’t already be over-committed, and in order to “be quick to give” you have to have space in your life to see the opportunity and not just see an obligation.
Next, consider that in order to “be generous” with “words” or “help” you have to know what God wants by asking & listening to Him often and by committing your ways to Him daily.
Finally,realize that if you are too busy, distracted and over-committed, how can you truly have Him evident “in everything”?
DISCUSSION: What is your plan for avoiding or eliminating over-commitment in your life?
Want a great, Christian time-management resource? Check out Life of a Steward by Loren Pinilis.