On making and keeping promises

A collection of quotes from a sermon by Lewis Smedes1

Two Friends Doing Pinky Swear
Image from Pexels. Shot by: Ron Lach
  • A promise is the present value of your future presence

“When a person makes a promise, she reaches out into an unpredictable future and makes one thing predictable: she will be there even when being there costs more than she wants to pay”

“With one simple word of promise, a person creates an island of certainty in a sea of uncertainty”

  • A promise is an antidote to a culture that says “who knows what the future might hold”

“When I make a promise, I act in freedom. I am not a cigar butt thrown out into the cosmos. I am not a hunk of clay waiting to be shaped by my culture. I am free to create a future of my own”

“I create my identity as this woman’s husband and that child’s father and that man’s friend”

  • Our true self is found in how we make and keep our promises

“Some people ask, “who am I?” and expect an answer to come from their feelings. Some people ask “who am I” and expect the answer to come from their accomplishments. Other people ask “who am I” and expect the answer to come from what other people think about them. A person who dares to make and keep promises discovers who she is by the promises she has made and kept to other people”

“What you feel is not what you are. Feelings are flickering flames that fade with every fitful breeze. What you desire is not what you are. Desires rise and fall and change so fast that they can only tell you what you want at any trembling moment; knowing what you want is not the same as knowing who you are. It is the power of promise-making that creates a lasting and genuine identity for us”

“The freedom we demonstrate in making commitments is the freedom to limit our freedom”

“The person who makes a vow, makes an appointment with himself at some distant time and place and he gives up his freedom in order to keep the appointment” Chesterton

  • What our world, our communities look like is a function of the promises we make and keep

“Our friendships. Our marriages. Our families. Our neighbourhoods. These are the communities that matter to us now. And every community we live in is born and bred by promises made and promises kept.”

“A real parent has the same name as God does: “the one who will be there with you””.

Essence of sermon:

…if you have a ship you will not desert, if you have people you will not forsake, if you have causes you will not abandon, then you are like God.

“…life begins and ends with those who dare to make a promise and care enough to keep the promise they make.”


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