23. Keep your promises. A promise is a powerful thing. I hate to break a promise. I have and it hurts. Why is breaking a promise so painful? When you make a promise, you give away a part of yourself. Something as simple as “I will be there at 3 o’clock to pick you up” gives a part of yourself to another person. And something as serious as “I promise to love you for the rest of our lives” gives yourself completely to another person. That is why divorce is so painful. In marriage, you are giving yourself to another person. In divorce, you have lost something you will never get back. You have lost a part of yourself. God’s intention in marriage is to give yourselves away to each other and to never get it back. Keep your promise.
In a family setting, our words are powerful instruments for good or evil, hurt or encouragement. We make promises with our words. Promises carry a power with children that must be handled carefully. We don’t make flippant promises. We don’t casually change the conditions of a promise. Children don’t understand the work pressures or fatigue that tempt you to break a promise. A promise kept builds trust and respect.
Our house is not a democracy and neither is yours. Rhonda and I are in charge and the kids have to listen. But we will never be effective teachers and role models in the lives of our children based on the authoritarian approach alone. We can make them listen; but we can’t make them accept and understand. Our effectiveness as a teacher with our children is based on a trust relationship that takes huge strides forward when we keep our promises.