Do you know how to make commitments?
People living a successful life make commitments and create contracts between themselves and other people—whether in their personal or professional lives.
But do you know the difference between a contract and a covenant?
To live a life of significance, you have to understand the difference between a covenant and commitment.
During my travels as a motivational speaker and keynote speaker, I have had the opportunity to talk about this at length with people from all walks of life.
Here’s everything you need to know about making commitments – and how to differentiate a commitment and a covenant.
Do You Make Commitments or Covenants?
The Webster Dictionary defines “commitment” as:
An agreement or pledge to do something in the future. The state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled.
A commitment is a two-way contract between two or more parties predicated on performance. It is usually bound by a written agreement of requirements.
Requirements, though, tend to represent a minimum standard in relationships.
In a commitment contract, the parties set limits to their responsibility by stating, “If you do this, I will do that.”
A commitment contract bears no feeling, emotional attachment, or moral obligation to perform.
What is a covenant?
A covenant is a solemn binding promise to do something in the present. It is a one-way promise between two or more parties, predicated on principles and bound by sacrifice.
A covenant is an unwritten conviction that “I will do this regardless if you do that.”
Max De Pree, retired CEO of Herman Miller, spoke of a covenant between an organization and an individual:
“Contracts are a small part of a relationship. A complete relationship needs a covenant relationship, which rests on a shared commitment to core values, to ideas, to issues, and goals.”
When people come to me for executive coaching, I stress that to walk the path toward significance. We must forge as many covenant relationships as possible. We must pay attention to the burning spirit behind our connections rather than limiting ourselves to a strict, pragmatic, egocentric, letter-of-the-law notion of our responsibilities.
A covenant service is when we trade something valued for the sake of something else more important or worthy:
- The baseball batter willingly bunts the ball that puts himself out but allows his teammate to advance as the base runner.
- Trading sleep for finishing the task.
- Giving a day off work to a colleague for finishing the job on time.
Ultimately, a covenant is giving something more than is required.
Making a covenant to live the principles of integrity, virtue, and fidelity sustains a much higher standard of performance than signing the dotted line on a physical contract.
Ultimately, we benefit most from this enhanced responsibility and performance.
Make commitments that transcend duty and serve others
Significant individuals at all levels perform covenant service.
The best way to find ourselves is to lose ourselves in the service of others.
Service transforms the servant and the served. Whoever renders service to many puts himself in line for greatness – great wealth, return, satisfaction, reputation, and love.
Four Steps to Learning Covenant Service
1. Make a sign
It should read: “What did you do for someone else today?” Put it in a visible place, such as your refrigerator door or bathroom mirror.
2. Begin with the “low-hanging fruit”
Look for little things you can do in your home with your family – cleaning, cooking, lifting, pushing, doing dishes, tutoring, driving, or listening.
Do something more every day for a week.
Don’t underestimate the power of taking care of the little things. It gives your loved ones time and space to explore their “big things.”
3. Organize a reporting system
I suggest using Sunday dinner, but it can be any morning, afternoon, or evening during your week. The important thing is to make it a ritual and encourage your loved ones to make room for it.
Allow each family member to share what they did each day that week. Listen intently. Be present. Put your ego in check if they direct criticism at you.
4. Expand your sphere of influence
Expand the areas, venues, and circles of influence in which you exercise service before self.
This is the tip of the iceberg:
- Do something for someone else at work
- Help in the neighborhood
- Volunteer at your children’s school
- Reach out to the children’s cancer ward in a hospital
- Share your time at a retirement home or rehabilitation center
- Join a service club: Rotary, Kiwanis, Optimists, or Elks
- Pick a charity and share your time, talents, and energy
You probably won’t have anyone thank you for your efforts. But that’s the point of covenant service.
Would you like to learn more about living a life of significance? Are you ready to engage your services in the pursuit of something beyond yourself?
Contact me, and we’ll embark on the journey together.
This content is from Dan’s Best Selling Book: The Art of Significance—Achieving The Level Beyond Success, which brings people on a transformative journey to achieve a level of success that helps them chart a course beyond money and fame.