The Half-Hearted Kamikaze
I love the story of the kamikaze pilot, who flew in World War II for the Japanese air force. He was interviewed by a newspaper reporter after returning from his fiftieth mission. The reporter asked the pilot if he was actually a contradiction. How can someone be a kamikaze pilot–whose mission is to fly into military bases and give up his life in the process—and still be alive after fifty missions?
“Well, its like this,” the pilot responded. “I was very involved. Not ever committed, but very involved.”
I always smile when I think of this story. A true kamikaze pilot only flies on ONE mission. He gives his life for that one mission. He cannot be involved without being committed. There is NO SUCH THING as a half-hearted kamikaze. Commitment goes with the territory. And so it is with US! If we have any hope of being a successful person, much less an effective leader in our church, we must be committed. Leaders possess commitment. They cannot be involved without being committed. The rest of the world may enjoy involvement without commitment, but WE CAN NOT!
So, what’s the difference between involvement and commitment? Just think of a pig and a chicken after eating a ham and egg breakfast. The chicken was involved. The pig was committed.
The word “mediocre” was first used to describe rock (or mountain) climbers who were involved but not committed. The word literally means “middle of the rock”. It was used to describe climbers who didn’t finish the climb but stopped halfway. OUCH!
Our schools are filled with students who want to be involved but not really committed. They want to keep all of their options open, and often don’t make a decision until the last minute because a better opportunity may arise at the eleventh hour. In fact, because our world offers us so many options, we tend not to commit ourselves because we prefer a wide focus. We want to do it all! The problem is—we can’t do it all. Leaders can do SOMETHING but they can’t do EVERYTHING. Nearly every great leader in history accomplished something memorable because of a narrow focus and a great commitment to the cause. Even young leaders have figured this out and make their mark because they are committed.
Joan of Arc knew her life mission by the time she was fifteen years old. At seventeen, she led 3,000 French knights in battle. On one occasion, she told a military general: “I will lead the way over the wall.” The general replied, “Not a man will follow you.” Joan replied, “I won’t be looking back to see if they’re following me.”
At nineteen she was burned alive because she would not recant on her commitment to France. The British gave her a chance to regain her liberty if she would only change her allegiance, but she would not. In choosing to die at the stake, she said, “Everyone gives their life for what they believe. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing, and yet they give their life to that little or nothing. One life is all we have, and we like it, and then it’s gone. But to give up what you are and to live without belief is more terrible than dying, even more terrible than dying young.”
John Wesley founded the organization that later became the Methodist Church when he was seventeen. He could have done many other things. He was educated at Oxford and enjoyed horticulture, medicine, journalism, and politics. But he saw the great spiritual need of England during the 18th century and committed himself to spiritual renewal. He traveled over 250,000 miles on horseback, teaching and organizing churches more than fifty years. Unlike Joan of Arc, Wesley died of old age, but not until his movement had impacted Great Britain. One history book reported that John Wesley almost single-handedly saved England from bloody revolution.
So…how does this relate to you?
Today, people talk about commitments they’re going to make, but often fail to keep them. New Year’s resolutions last until February or March, at best. We say we believe in something or make a promise—then we drift from it. Half-hearted kamikazes are a dime a dozen. The reason other folks live such quality lives and possess such great influence is that they do more than make promises. They’re committed to some ideals and values, and they live them out. They move from a “wish” to a “lifestyle” by surrendering to a cause along the way.
Your commitment will mean something when you act on it for an extended period of time. When you become committed, you will notice something wonderful. The moment you make a commitment you will find all kinds of wisdom, energy, and resources at your disposal that weren’t necessarily there before you made the commitment.
Many people want to see everything in place before they get committed. Unfortunately, they will never act if they are waiting for the perfect conditions. They are half-hearted kamikazes, waiting for a feeling before they act. They want to “feel” led to do something. Once again, they may be waiting for a while. We are much more likely to act our way into a feeling, then we are to feel our way into action. Get committed long enough, and eventually that commitment will become a conviction you’ll be willing to die for.
Matthew 16:24 – If any one wants to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.