Upon his very first entrance into the House of Commons as Britain’s new Prime Minister on May 13, 1940, Winston Churchill received only a lukewarm reception from the assembly while outgoing Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was heartily cheered. But Churchill refused to be swayed by what others thought or said, and made the first of his many morale-boosting speeches.
As Hitler’s seemingly unstoppable armies were storming across Europe, and when the survival of Great Britain itself appeared rather uncertain, Churchill was defiant and determined. No matter how he was treated by fellow countrymen, he offered his “blood, toil, tears and sweat” in order to attain “victory, however long and hard the road may be.”
With those words, he moved beyond a commitment to his nation to a covenant – he would serve his nation out of love, no matter what.
Webster defines “commitment” as: “an agreement or pledge to do something in the future . . . the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled.”
A “covenant,” the higher law realised by significant individuals, is a solemn binding promise to do something now. A covenant is a binding promise between two or more parties, predicated on principles and bound by sacrifice – an unwritten conviction that “I will do this regardless if you do that.”
Contracts or commitments are a small part of a relationship. A complete relationship needs a covenant relationship, which rests on a shared commitment to core values, to ideas, to issues, and to goals. To transcend success and walk the path towards significance, we must forge as many covenant relationships as possible, paying attention to the burning spirit behind our connections rather than to limiting ourselves to a strict, pragmatic, egocentric, letter-of-the-law notion of our own responsibilities. Let us embrace covenant service, defined as an act of trading something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy. It is trading sleep for finishing the task, giving up your free time to visit a sick friend, and days off work for finishing the job on time; it is giving something more than is required.
As significant individuals know, as any real winners in life know, making a covenant to live the principles of integrity, virtue, and fidelity sustain a much higher standard of performance than signing the dotted line on a physical contract. And, ultimately, we are the ones who benefit most from this enhanced responsibility and performance.
Too often I see people fall short of their commitments. I have come to understand it is because they have not yet made that mental, emotional and spiritual shift in going beyond the “contract” and fulfilling their destiny. Any change is uncomfortable – I would like to talk more about this next week – but change is what everybody wants. Change to the state of a marriage, change to a relationship with your children, change to your bank account, change to how others perceive you, change to that number you see when you step on the scale. To truly see that change, we first have to change OURSELVES, and then we will see everything around us change as per what we have become. Call it faith, the law of attraction, or the universe answering your call, the universal principle remains the same. You can only change you, and to do that, you must go beyond making commitments and start making some covenants!