Be Dependable in All Things
WHEN someone has an appointment with you, would you rather have him come on time or be late? If you give a person a job to do, would you rather have him fulfill it, or ignore it unless you stand over him? When you purchase a machine, do you want one that runs, or one that is constantly malfunctioning?
Almost everybody will recognize the desirability of the former in each instance. We like people to be on time for work. We want them to fulfill work obligations. And we want machines that work.
In each case the desired quality is dependability. There is little doubt that almost everyone wants dependability in other persons, and in things they may be using. But what is often more difficult is for the person himself to be that way.
If you want people to be dependable, are you? If you want them to be on time for appointments, are you? If you want others to be dependable when they work for you, are you careful to be dependable when working for others? Yes, dependability works both ways. If it is good for the other fellow to be that way, it surely must be good for each one, individually, to be that way also. Your desire for dependability in others is shared equally by their desire for you to be dependable when dealing with them.
But wanting dependability in others, and being that way oneself, are two different things. It is relatively easy to want dependability from others, but not as easy to be dependable oneself. Why? For one thing, not everybody is dependable, and that sets a bad example for others. In fact, more and more the trend in the world is away from dependability and toward getting as much for as little effort as possible. This is hardly conducive to encouraging dependability in the majority of people.
For another thing, dependability comes hard because it is not a trait that we inherit from our parents; it must be taught, cultivated and practiced before it becomes habitual. We can see the lack of it in young children. Can you expect your child to be dependable in keeping his clothes clean, in brushing his teeth, or in putting things away, or even in being honest, unless you take the time to teach him those things? No, because the truth of the matter is just as the Bible says at Proverbs 22:15: “Foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy; the rod of discipline is what will remove it far from him.”
But if dependability is hard to come by, and the trend is away from it, what is the motive for wanting to be dependable ourselves? The motive is that it is right, regardless of what anyone else may choose to do, and that it benefits others and ourselves as well. It is like the matter of morality. It is right to be moral, regardless of the fact that others may be immoral. And being moral benefits others and the one who practices it, physically as well as mentally. It is the same with being dependable.
This is particularly so from the viewpoint of the one who fears God and wants to please him, for God wants his faithful creatures to imitate what is right, not what is wrong. And being dependable is a godly trait. It is right. It also brings benefits to others and ourselves as well. These are motives enough.
God’s Son, Jesus Christ, showed that dependability was right, and that it should be practiced even in small things, since being dependable when doing small things is the road to learning how to be dependable when doing big things. Jesus said: “The person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much.” (Luke 16:10) In one illustration Jesus commended the worker who was dependable in what was assigned him and showed that it proved him worthy of greater responsibilities. He said: “Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.” (Matt. 24:46, 47) The reward for dependability in a lesser task was the trusting of one with greater responsibility.
The logic of this is evident, for who would trust a person with a big job if he was undependable in a small one? If a man could not get along with his fellow workers in a department, would it be logical for the company to make him personnel director for the entire firm? If a man were unable to be a cashier because he could not add or subtract correctly, would he be asked to be the head bookkeeper of a company? No, only when dependability is demonstrated on the lesser task is someone ready for one that is greater.
Being dependable brings many benefits. It means you will work better, keeping your employer satisfied; it will enable you to keep the arrangements you make with others, and on time, making you a more desirable associate; and in the family circle, being dependable as a husband or wife will make for a happier family relationship.
Think, too, of other benefits it can bring you individually. For instance, a person who has learned to be dependable in putting things where they belong can depend upon their being there when he looks for them. He will not have to spend much time and undergo aggravation searching for them. Also, if one cultivates the habit of allowing enough time to keep appointments, he saves himself trouble and irritation, because the perpetual latecomer is usually rushing and is often upset because he is late.
The dependable person is happier in his work. The one who is not dependable must always be worried about whether his employer will find out about his bad work habits. He must be making excuses for poor work. He is usually on the defensive, for he knows he should do better, but does not. That is no way to achieve satisfaction in one’s work. But when one cultivates the habit of being dependable at work, he knows that he has done what is required, what is right, and can enjoy peace of mind.
Yes, in just about everything we can do in life there will be an improvement if we are dependable. Our work, family life, associations, yes, even our own self-respect will benefit. So be dependable in all things!