On Commitment and Being Present

Author: Dean Tzobanakis

As you’ve probably heard from someone associated with BYX in the past few weeks, commitment is cool. We expect our brothers to be committed to our fraternity. That’s why there’s a semester-long barrier to entry called pledgeship that tests commitment. Many BYX brothers are also involved in campus ministries, student government, and other areas on campus. That’s awesome because the more outlets you have to exercise what you’re learning and growing in the better.

But that’s where we need to pause and offer the caveat that over-commitment is a thing. And we should also pause to add another caveat: that a lack of time management is also a thing. And these are two very different things.

I’ll give a few examples: often I hear that brothers don’t show up to things because they’re busy with something else. One of the most common is, “I can’t come to chapter meeting because I’m studying.”

In the first case, there might be a time conflict for events hosted by multiple organizations a person may be committed to. And, being human, said person cannot be in two places at once. If conflicts like this cause an individual to be ineffective everywhere because they’re not truly committed anywhere (in essence, their focus and effort are too divided), that’s what you might call over-ambitious or over-commitment.

However, as in the latter example, if a brother isn’t coming to chapter because he has spent the rest of his week doing things other than study so that he is now only left with one night to take care of his scholarly duties instead of fulfilling a commitment he made to be present at chapter meeting, time management is the issue. Don’t hear me wrong, academics is more important than chapter meeting, but an hour-and-a-half meeting one night per week is not the only time someone has to focus on school.

As I said earlier, inept time management and over-commitment are two different things, but I often see them mixed up. Over-commitment is one thing, but I see some use the fact that they’re “committed to too many things” as an excuse for poor time management, producing a distant individual who has one foot one place and the other foot somewhere else. I’m not saying that BYX has to be paramount in a brother’s life, but can I propose that wherever we are, and in whatever capacity we are committed somewhere, that we have both feet in?

My point is this: we need to learn our limits, yes, but once we do we need to prioritize. We make time for what’s important to us, so it might be that the wrong things are occupying the “important” space in our brains while we neglect our commitments. (Seeking the Lord, taking care of business in the classroom, caring for your family, being present in BYX, and countless others.)

The habits we form now impact who we will become down the road, so why not work on these things now?

I’ll use marriage as an example. Selflessness, sacrifice and service are the language of the covenant of marriage. If you go into it with any other intention, you’re gonna have a bad time. Furthermore, an attitude of selflessness, sacrifice and service doesn’t seem to be magically deposited on any of us. A perfect willingness to put another before yourself doesn’t come naturally, but requires discipline, exercise and, of course, falling short a time or ten. You have an opportunity to love and serve others and focus less on yourself in your relationships (with everyone, not just significant others) right now; don’t sit on your hands and wait for your wedding day to start.

Likewise, obtaining a fancy piece of paper from your school of choice won’t likely produce a sense of commitment, promptness, organization, responsibility and time management when you haven’t worked that out. You have an opportunity to grow right now where you are; don’t sit on your hands until you graduate.


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Dean Tzobanakis is the national advisor for the Baylor, Oklahoma State, LSU, Tennessee, and Central Oklahoma BYX chapters. He and his wife Kelsey live in Benbrook, TX.

 


 

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