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Are you Committed or Interested? (And the difference is significant.)

I slid into the driver’s side seat, opened up google maps and calculated the route. I had 4 hours and 17 minutes of driving time ahead of me, which was all dependent on the schizophrenic traffic conditions through Long Island, across the GW and out of New York City.

The first hour quickly ticked by.  It was the combination of the insane driving skills you must possess to drive in NYC (Do you remember the game Frogger? Driving in NYC is just like that.) and the thoughts, ideas, and excitement for the local church that were pulsing through my mind.

I had just spent time with the staff at Centerpoint Church. God is doing something so significant on Long Island! And it is because of churches like Centerpoint and The Bridge, who commit to leading with passion and excellence, that people are reached, and God is changing lives.

The four-hour drive was clicking by at a rhythmic pace. Each mile-marker melded together in a stream of numeric patterns. ESPN radio was playing in the background, filling the dead space in the car. I drifted back and forth between the philosophical world of church growth and multisite strategy, and to the meaningless world of sports analysis.

And then it happened.The two worlds collided.

Herm Edwards on ESPN Radio

Herm Edwards, former NFL player and coach, and current NFL analyst started to talk. His intensity and passion for the game caught my attention.  I turned up the radio and began to actually lean into the conversation.  At first, the conversation was the standard NFL Q&A as they dissected the games and player performance from week two of the season. And then in a moment, Herm unleashed a 90-second leadership rant that stretched my thinking.

90 Second Rant

“Two things in Life. Not only in football. Two things in life – if you have an occupation. Are you interested? Or are you committed?  A lot of people are interested. But are you committed? When you walk into that huddle . . .I never missed a practice. From Highschool. College. Professional football. Never missed a practice. Period. And the reason for that was real simple: When I walked into that huddle I wanted those other ten guys to go, ‘That guy right there. He is committed to this, man. I’m all in with that guy.’ So if you are having a bad game, them players are like, ‘Hey man. He is here every day. He’s workin. We trust this guy. We trust this guy.’ You got to be committed, man. That is what life’s about. Go commit to something. People are interested until they figure out what the score is. Oh then I will commit. No – No -No! You commit first. Go commit to something. Football is about commitment, man. You walk in that huddle and in the end, I have always said, My greatest accomplishment in football is when I walked into that huddle those guys on my team said, ‘I trust this guy, man. Whatever he got, he is going to leave out on the field.’ When you get a huddle like that, now you have a chance. Now you got a chance . . . to win! That is the most important thing, man. I used to stay in the huddle with players . . .  as a Coach, I would look them in the eyes  . . . are you committed or interested? I want guys that are committed. And some are not the best-talented players. That is what makes the team so great.Talent? Talent is a gift. It’s God given. Give me some guys that commit to something. Now you got a chance!”

If you want to listen to it, here it is! Just realize that I recorded it on my iPhone, off the radio, while driving. So the audio quality isn’t that good. But listen to it anyway. You will get fired up!

A New Leadership Insight

Over the next two hours, Herm’s words consumed my mind. I have heard a lot of leadership conversations centered on the concept of commitment. That wasn’t new.  What captured my attention was his use of the word interested.   You see, there is such a significant difference between the two. And yet, they can look similar. Interested people are usually passionate people, that have perfected the art of talking.  They talk about vision and about how to accomplish the vision. They talk about sacrifice and all the different components of sacrifice like hard-work and taking pay cuts. They talk about “what could be” and lofty dreams. They are charismatic and can engage large or small groups of people.

You find yourself listening to them saying, “Yes!”  At this point, from their words and excitement, you think they are committed. But the true test is to look intently at their actions. Actions, what they actually do and don’t do, are always the litmus test that separates interest and commitment.


Interested people will convince you that they are committed by their words. Committed people will reveal their commitment by their actions.

Interested people talk about the sacrifice required to accomplish something great. Committed people actually sacrifice significantly in order to accomplish something of significance.

Interested people get excited about an idea until it passes their “pain threshold”. And then they move on to the next idea. Committed people are excited at the beginning. And the excitement intensifies as they push through the obstacles and setbacks.

Interested people stay busy doing stuff. But accomplish very little. Committed people work hard, focusing on the objectives critical to moving the idea forward.

Interested people gather groups of people around them, not recognizing that the committed will drift away. Committed people quickly separate the interested from the committed. And then they build a team of only committed people.

Interested people talk about everything they are going to do one day. Committed people will one day talk about what they actually accomplished.

Interested people are numerous and commonplace. Committed people are few in number, but are changing the world.

I could keep going, but I know you get the point.  So let me ask you two questions.

Q1: Are you interested? Or committed?

The answer is quite easy to reveal. Look at what you have done today, this week, this past year.  Your actions will reveal the answer. The obstacles you choose to face and overcome will reveal your commitment level. The hard work, not the fun, surface, quickly get noticed type of work, will reveal who you really are.

Q2: Is your team interested or committed?

This will be a lot easier to answer. Why? The team always, and I do mean always, reflects the leader.  So if your team is filled with a bunch of “interested” people, well then you have the answer to question #1.

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