As we begin to consider what it means to live with conviction, one of the most commonly used words to describe what that looks like is “commitment.” I think this is because commitment is only shown through actions. It is through someone’s commitment that they show us they are living a life of conviction. Without action we don’t see a person’s convictions.
So what does it mean to have “commitment”? Unfortunately, many of us aren’t able to really define it. We have a vague understanding of what it looks like (actions) but not an ability to explain what it means. This is part of the problem today in our world where true commitment and committed people are becoming harder and harder to find. You see, if you can’t define something in your life, how can you actually live it? For example, if you say that you want to be successful, until you define what success is, how will you ever know that you have it?
So before we go any further, we should probably define what “commitment” is. Defining it, though, takes more than just looking the word up in the dictionary. To truly understand it takes more than a one-sentence description. The definition I like the best is the following:
To commit is to pledge yourself to a certain purpose or line of conduct. It means practicing your beliefs consistently. There are two fundamental conditions for commitment. The first is having a sound set of beliefs. The second is faithful adherence to those beliefs with your behavior. Commitment is “persistence with a purpose.”1
One of the best examples of “persistence with a purpose” would be someone who has had many different names over the years. “Eatius Birdius” or “Carnivorous Vulgaris” are just two of the many names he has been given. His most famous name is “Wile E. Coyote” (the famous TV cartoon character), and he is known for his unwavering commitment to capturing the Road Runner. This is a character who, over the span of 50 years, never gave up on his commitment. It resulted in him being squashed flat, burnt to a crisp, or physically mangled in thousands of different ways. Yet every time he tried and failed he would head back to the drawing board and develop another scheme to try and capture the elusive bird. We can easily see that the coyote was unwavering in his commitment and lived a life of conviction.
So what are you committed to? Would we see what your convictions are through your actions and choices? What is it that your actions would show as a “fact” demonstrated by behavior? What are you willing to sacrifice for to complete or achieve?
Ultimately we all have some form of commitment in our lives. We are committed to something or someone even if we cannot clearly see it or define it. However, for many in our world today the only commitment they have is to themselves; their actions and choices reveal that.
The world needs and wants people who are committed to more than just themselves, who understand that life is not about me and what I can get out of it. People who serve others (remember our focus ESLR is Servant Leader) ultimately are radical people living a life of conviction. No matter where our students go and what career(s) they choose, we hope that we teach them now to give of themselves to help others and impact their community in positive ways. When they do this, they “depart sharply from the usual or ordinary” and therefore are “radicals.”