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Oct 27

Keep Your Word When Circumstances Change

Posted by: Steve Marr

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Too often in business individuals fail to honor a promise and walk away as if nothing happened. It is important to remember that there are consequences to broken promises.  Here are some examples.

“Bill” wanted to rent a small office location mostly because of poor Internet service at home.  He agreed to sublease a room from another business who wanted to fill additional office space that was available. However, a short time later Bill’s home received a significant upgrade in internet service. Bill abruptly left the space he leased. He gave no thought to the business owner who took on more space to accommodate Bill. Bill’s decision left the owner paying several hundred dollars a month in an additional expense that was unplanned.


Another businessperson, “Ken,” agreed to buy a work vehicle from “Conner.” Ken needed two weeks to get the cash ready to complete the purchase. A week later Ken found a better deal and canceled the transaction. However, Connor had already acquired an additional replacement vehicle. Ken’s broken agreement left Conner with a short-term cash problem when Ken was no longer interested in buying the vehicle.

In another situation, a contractor agreed to build an outside deck for a specific amount of money within a specific time. The contractor signed the contract in exchange for a deposit.  A short time later the contractor landed a larger job and needed to cancel the work or push the deck job off for a few months. This left the customer stuck in a shortened work season. Finding another contractor to fill the job would be difficult.

A common denominator in these situations is perspective.  When one party’s circumstances changed, they felt free to change their agreement. Scripture provides a different perspective when it reminds us that anyone “who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind . . . will never be shaken.” (Psalms 15:4b & 5b, NIV)

We all have situations where circumstances preclude us from completing a task as agreed. A painter was supposed to start some work on my house and had a car accident that put him in the hospital for a week. I understood why he was unable to start as agreed. However, too frequently business leaders think that when their circumstances change or have a better opportunity, it’s okay to break a promise and walk away. They give little thought to the impact on others.

When a situation has the potential to change your agreement, it is important to go to that person with whom you made an agreement and ask to be released from your commitment. In many situations the person will answer, “yes.”  However, if the person does not release you, keep your promise. 

Besides, when you keep your promise: God promises you “will never be shaken.”  Hold on to that promise and let Him show you what that means.


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