Broken Promises

My loyalty card was empty! Rather than getting my complimentary cup of coffee I got a blank look from the shop attendant who said I had nothing on my card. "But the guy who served me the other day told me I had a free coffee coming". "Sorry, there is nothing there", and swiveling the screen so I could see it, sure enough, there was nothing on my card. "I should've taken it when I had the chance", I thought.

So, I just paid $4 for my coffee.

I was pretty upset though. Not because I'm cheap (I don't think). I was annoyed and frustrated that this was the second time this coffee shop's loyalty card meant nothing. Another broken promise - only of the $4 variety, but a broken promise nonetheless.

I'll be looking for another coffee shop now!

While a trivial example, it reminded me of the importance of keeping a promise, even it is a promise of a free coffee for every ten purchased. My default is that I expect honesty when I'm dealing with people, yet after years of experience, especially in the workplace, I've learned that I need to give certain people a generous buffer when they make a statement. So, "a week" might in fact mean "two to three weeks", or "I'll get this done" needs to be qualified with the words, "if I remember".

I learned from hard experience many years ago that I too fell into the trap of using my words insincerely. I was managing a particular project to implement a new information system, which involved significant change for one particular person. On one occasion, this person stopped me in my tracks when she said, "you've been promising me training for the past month. Stop telling me about it - just do it" She was a pretty straight shooter and I had to agree that whenever I spoke with her about training, my words became less meaningful because she was no closer to being trained than when I first mentioned it. I had to deliver.

 Perhaps it is easy to excuse our lack of follow-through on our promises by hiding behind our cultural standards. So, if we're reminded on Sunday that our God does not lie and that His promises are always good, we could simply hide behind the fact that no-one is perfect like He is. Besides which, no-one expects 100% on every word we say. Hopefully that's not what we convince ourselves.

Let's keep challenging our cultural standards by being the kind of people who follow through on what we promise - even if it inconveniences us.

Gabriel Lacoba