You can quickly turn good promises, goals, and commitments into obligations. And, be careful because obligation encourages rebellion. For example, when you think you have no freedom and choice, it becomes more challenging because you focus on "I have to do this!"
Obligation Works Against Promises and Goals
Obligation encourages rebellion because obligation tends to change a “want to” into a “have to” – draining energy from your life. A "have to" easily blocks your sense of choosing to commit in the first place. Then your promises or commitments are used to manipulate your behavior into compliance. You get upset that you have to do it, but you convince yourself to do it too often with a bad attitude. Sound familiar?
For example, you are reading God's Word. Is it a choice or an obligation? Do you "have to" read or "want to" read and pray?
How about obedience to God? Do you "have to" obey God, or do you "want to"?
How about love and marriage? Do you "have to" love others, or do you "want to"? Do you "have to" stay married or "want to" stay married?
In each of those situations, obligation encourages rebellion against doing something good!
Obligation Isn't Choice
A profound difference exists between "having to" do what is right and "wanting to" do what is right. You do not "have to" do what is right; you have a choice. Obligation gets you to see the situation differently, that you have no choice. That means you believe a lie because you do have a choice!
Commitments are often outstanding, but to benefit from them, remember them as a choice. When you focus on the commitment, you seldom remember you are still free, which causes your sense of choice to vanish. “Yes, I chose to commit to this. I can back out of this commitment because I am free to do so, but I am choosing to follow through.”
Obligation encourages rebellion because it opposes freedom, choice, wants, and desires. Choice means you can “do something” or “not do it.” With choice, there is no compulsion for one option or the other. But with obligation, you must do it; you cannot get out of it. Obligation de-energizes, drains you. You roll your eyes, sigh, and complain about how you “should, ought, or must” do the obligation or commitment.
Obligation keeps you in bed in the morning, while wants don’t – they tend to get you up, even early. And obligations create a Left Circle lifestyle, reacting and responding. They create fiction rather than the truth of choice.
Changing Obligation to Choice
Any event in life can become tiresome or obligatory if you are not thinking clearly. Consider an athlete in training or a mother or father cleaning up after the kids. What about a family giving up an exciting vacation to care for a dying grandmother? How about just going to work or school? In those situations, you can live in obligation, making life miserable for yourself and those around you, or live in freedom.
So how can you live in freedom? You learn to identify Primary and Secondary Choices - a principle taught by Robert Fritz. You identify priorities in your life. What do I value the most? Will I choose those values or ignore them? Hopefully, your values align with God's.
A primary choice is the value you want to live, the outcome you want, or the vision you want to achieve – your THERE. A secondary choice is what you do to reach the primary choice. Please note that Secondary Choices are not necessarily wanted in and of themselves.
Olympic Athlete Example
If you are an athlete in training, are you training to train, or is there a Primary Choice (THERE) to be achieved? Olympic athletes, they train to get the Gold Medal. The training is a Secondary Choice to help get them to the Primary Choice. Training is the PATH to THERE from HERE.
Obviously, you have more energy when focused on the Primary Choice versus the training. That is the power of Primary and Secondary Choices. When involved with Secondary Choices, you can lose sight of why you are doing it. That is the time to remind yourself of the Primary Choice. “I may not enjoy this training, but I want the Gold Medal!”
Realigning your focus to the Primary Choice will add energy to your life. Ultimately the highest, most joyful, most energizing primary choice for doing anything is to glorify God. With His strength, you will have self-control (remember, it is a fruit of the Spirit) to make good secondary choices, not for you, but for the ultimate joy found in Christ.
Do you love people because you have to or because you want to? Big difference, right? Don't let obligation encourage rebellion!
PURSUING THEIR BEST - Freedom in Relationships