You begin your day with a trusty alarm clock – one that keeps accurate time and never fails to sound the alarm on time. Without it, you’d be late every day.
You turn on the light switch and immediately the room is illuminated.
You turn the faucet on to brush your teeth. The water flows – just as it always does.
The automatic coffee maker has kicked in – right on time. You grab a cup and head out the door, car keys in hand.
You open the car door, put the key in the ignition and turn it. The car starts.
These simple everyday habits are necessary. Each of them hinges on reliability – you depend on these things so you can get your day started. Your day is full of similar situations that you take for granted because reliability is something you assume will always be there – until it fails.
If you get up and turn on the faucet and nothing comes out – you’re frustrated. You need water. How can you get your day started without water? You say to yourself, “Not today!”
You depend on many things each day. Without dependability or reliability your life would be almost impossible. Simply try to list the things in your life upon which you depend – daily. It will be a very long list.
Yet – in the Lord’s Church people often avoid reliability. Some people don’t like to be dependable.
Dependable. Trustworthy. Consistent.
Does that describe your place in the local congregation?
The simple act of public worship happens three times each week, but almost every congregation with which I’ve ever been associated suffers from some members who are unreliable. Some members enjoy showing up when they want, going elsewhere when they like, or simply staying home when it suits them. Can the congregation depend on you to always be there unless sickness or something beyond your control prevents it? If not, why not?
The work required to maintain the physical facilities of the church building rarely rely on more than a small number of people. There’s usually one or two people who mow the yard. Others are content to let them do it. Most congregations try to get people to sign up to clean the building, but normally you can count on one hand those willing to tackle that thankless chore. Again, the number of reliable people is usually very small. It’s always easier to let somebody else do it.
Visiting the sick or elderly, studying the Scripture with people (members or non-members), helping those with problems and challenges – again, these tasks normally fall to the hands of only a few.
The Pareto principle – also known as the 80/20 rule – always seem accurate. Namely, it seems that 80% of the work is done by only 20% of the people. Or, only 20% of the people are really reliable – people you can always count on for whatever must be done.
What makes the difference? Why are some in the 20% and others in the 80%?
That’s it. Simply, desire. Some want to be dependable while others are unwilling to be responsible.
It isn’t talent.
It isn’t skill.
It isn’t opportunity.
It just boils down to will and willingness. Those who are willing to be reliable and work to make it so, are. Those who don’t want to be dependable, are not.
Accountability is often an issue. Some of us don’t like to be held accountable. We rather enjoy showing up for services if we want – and staying home if want. And we don’t much like folks checking up on us to find out where we were. We may want to be left alone. We’d like to tell others, “Listen, if I’m there – I’m there. If I’m not, then I’m not. It’s none of your business.” We’re wrong, of course – but that’s how people sometimes behave. We like our privacy. But rarely do such people comprehend the honest concern brethren have when they see others drifting, growing weak or losing interest in the Lord’s Church.
The same attitude is manifested in all Kingdom endeavors. “Work? Don’t count on me. If I’m there, fine. But if I’m not, don’t be shocked.”
What if your alarm clock, or light switch, or faucet, or coffee-maker or car ignition worked that way? You’d fix or replace them – that’s what. You wouldn’t tolerate it because you understand that life cannot be managed like that. You need these things to work, all the time – every time!
Why shouldn’t the Lord’s work happen as reliably as your alarm clock? Or be as dependable as your light switch? Or faucet? Or coffee-maker? Or your car’s ignition?
Isn’t the work of the Church more urgent and important than those things? Then why do some members treat it with such contempt or apathy?
The amazing thing about reliability in the Lord’s Kingdom, the Church, is that it’s not a complicated issue to fix. It can be fixed fast! All that’s required is a person’s willingness to become reliable – then to follow through by doing the things dependable people do.
Show up 100% of the time – on time.
Do things for the Church.
Do things for others.
Always be accountable.
Let others know what’s happening with you.
Find out what’s happening with others.
Let others count on you.
Show your interest in the Church, the congregation and the brethren.
Making that decision may be the toughest part of being dependable. But the rewards are incredible. You’ll find yourself doing things – and regretting that you weren’t doing them sooner. You’ll find people relying on you – and it will feel great. You’ll find yourself and your family being more engaged in the work of the Church. The Church will become more precious to you, and your family will reap the rewards. Brethren will become more important to you. You’ll grow closer to other members. Your love for the church will grow.
The Lord’s work will prosper because YOU are involved – dependable – reliable. The congregation will thrive. Your life will improve. Your family’s spiritual welfare will improve. The benefits will far outweigh the small price you’ll pay for being reliable!
In time, you’ll experience some frustration with those 80% who continue to be lackluster in their service and unreliable for the work of the Lord. But you may be able to help them make the decision you made – to number themselves among those who are trustworthy. Perhaps over time you can reverse that 80/20 and help create a congregation where 80% of the members are working, not just 20%. Lord willing, with enough dedication and hard work you can build a church where 100% of the members are engaged in the effort.
The Lord’s work needs everybody.
More importantly, everybody needs the Lord and the Church. We all depend on God to save us through His Son Jesus Christ. We count on God to be true. The question is…
Can God depend on us to take up our rightful place in His Kingdom, the Church, and do our part?