Committed vs. Involved

by Sam Clark

We have all heard the story about the Chicken and the Pig discussing who gave more to the morning meal. The Chicken says he is involved, supplying the eggs, but the Pig notes that he is committed, supplying the bacon. Clearly the Pig has more skin in the game. Many times when I’m working with people I have to question them on their commitment. A lot of people mistake involvement with commitment. I can be involved without being committed, but I can’t be committed without being involved. Unfortunately many people bring involvement into a marriage rather than commitment. Let’s look at how those two connections play out in relationships.

Let’s look at an example outside of a marriage. I have worked for years doing sound at our local church. I started doing it when the position became suddenly available. I’m a “help when I can” kind of guy so I stepped up and did what I could when I was asked. What became very clear very quickly was that this was not going to be a “come when you can” kind of involvement. This required a certain level of commitment. I had to learn the sound board, a very intimidating piece of equipment to look at. But at that point we, me and the sound job, were still just “dating”. I had made not solid commitment to do it for the long haul. After I learned the ropes I had a decision to make, was I going to continue to be involved or was I going to commit. The difference was important to those around me. If I was just involved, then those in charge would not know for sure if I was going to be there the next week. My other option was to commit. That meant I had to be there every week, rain or shine, because if I did not show there was no sound. People who had a good reason to expect me to be there would be let down. You see, committed people bring a certain security to those around them. Involved people don’t give those around them the same sense of security. They could choose to not be there.

Let’s take this over to the marriage relationship. If you are “involved” with someone, you may simply be in that “dating” phase. You have not decided to be all in, like our Pig friend. If things don’t work out you can walk away, no harm no foul. But if you are in a committed relationship, walking away tears at the fabric of both parties. There isn’t a “no harm no foul” position any more. Both parties are injured in some way.

Marriage should be, a place of full commitment. One where both parties know that the other is in it for the long haul. They are giving it their all, rain or shine. There is security in that. There is a comfort in knowing that, no matter what, your partner is going to be there. There is security in knowing that the next argument or disagreement isn’t going to send them out the door. That level of commitment allows you to be truly honest in the relationship. Your own faults are not quite so scary to allow your partner to see them. It also means that when your partner has faults, and we all do, that your commitment causes you to work it out. You learn to accept some things, change others. But most importantly you learn to change yourself.

I’ll close with this thought, details for another time. You really can only change yourself. You cannot change anyone else. They may choose to change for you, but they have to do it. Are you committed enough to your partner to stop trying to change them and to change yourself?