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Every day—whether in business or in ministry, you make promises to your "customers." Some are explicit, others implied, but each one ultimately affects the success or failure of your business/ministry.

Nothing builds customer confidence and loyalty more reliably than a history of well-kept promises. By the same token, nothing will undermine your reputation faster than a string of broken commitments.

Implied promises, though often unnoticed or taken for granted, can be every bit as powerful as expressed promises. Everyone recognizes a commitment has been made when you advertise "the lowest price in town," or say to your church member, "I'll pray for your need."

But have you considered all the implied promises your business/ministry makes, such as that a part listed in your catalog will be available for order; or that your restaurant serves meals that won't make a customer sick; or that new members or visitors to your church will be honored and treated with kindness?

How you fulfill your promises either strengthens or weakens your relationship with these people.

Scripture is clear on the importance of keeping promises. "If a man...takes an oath to bind himself...he shall not violate his word" (Num. 30:2). Jesus said, "Let your statement be, 'Yes, yes,' or 'No, no'" (Matt. 5:37). King Solomon wrote, "It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay" (Eccl. 5:5).

Three common pitfalls can hamper our ability to fulfill our promises: over commitment, pressure, and bad habits. Over commitment is an easy trap to fall into. In our zeal to meet a customer's needs, we may promise to deliver by a particular date without realizing we have made a prior commitment to complete other work.

Develop the habit of stopping long enough to consider your workload, evaluate your resources, and determine if you are able to meet the new obligation. Jesus taught, "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?" (Luke 14:28).

Sometimes a customer will pressure us to agree to a deadline we cannot meet—or that we can meet only by dropping other commitments. Sometimes we're afraid to tell a customer we can't deliver, because we don't want to face the pressure, or we don't want to make the customer angry, or we're afraid of losing important business.

At times like these, we need to be careful not to allow our fear to goad us into making a promise we can't keep. Remember the words of the apostle Paul, who wrote, "God has not given us a spirit of timidity" (2 Tim. 1:7).

More often than not, your customers will respond well when they understand that you only promise what you can deliver. You may lose an occasional order or a job, but your credibility will remain intact. When the pressure's on, ask yourself, "Am I making this commitment based on the knowledge that I can follow through, or am I just trying to lock in the business?"

Poor organization and administrative habits often contribute to broken commitments. We might agree to send a quote, but then forget to write it down—or we misplace the specifications.

Or we fail communicate with our staff, so that no one else knows about the promise we've made. If a sloppy system or poor habits are causing you to break commitments, resolve to improve your processes—and then follow through.

Even the most effective businesspeople or pastors will occasionally fall short and fail to honor a commitment. When that happens, the best solution is to contact the people affected immediately, confess, apologize, and explain how you will correct the situation.

Proverbs 28:13 says, "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion." People don't want excuses.

And don't ask your "customer" to bear the consequences of your mistake. Accept responsibility, go the extra mile, and make good on your commitments. Promises made—and kept—will strengthen your customer relationships and prosper your business/ministry.

Copyright © Business Proverbs
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Steve Marr
Web site: The Life
Steve Marr has learned from 40 years of business experience that God's way works. As an author, speaker and business consultant, Marr helps companies and organizations apply the ancient wisdom of the Bible to avoid the common mistakes and headaches of growing a business.

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