“The world is a collection of cogs; each depends on the other” (Jewish Proverb).
IN THE REAL WORLD, WE CAN’T AVOID BEING DEPENDED ON. Like it or not, we are connected to others in ways that involve dependencies. Human beings have to count on other human beings to do certain things. And the road runs both ways — before we die, each of us will have depended on others and others will have depended on us. It’s a simple fact: people have to have other people.
But this is not a fact to be regretted; it’s one to be appreciated. It is nothing less than a privilege to have others who look to us to perform deeds that are important to them. Serving others who need us is a blessing. When we’re thinking rightly, we’ll see this blessing as a stewardship, a sacred trust. But the principle also works in reverse. It may go against our pride, but depending on others is also a blessing. If there are others whom we truly need, that fact is not to be regretted.
But if dependence is an unavoidable fact, we need to make sure that dependability is also a fact. If others are counting on us, we should be “count-on-able,” as a friend of mine used to say. Words like steady, reliable, trustworthy, and unfailing should come to mind when people think of us. That will only be the case if we have established a track record of keeping promises and commitments, of following through, and of finishing what we start. It takes more than a short spurt of good intentions to gain a reputation for dependability.
But if our record of dependability is spotty, what should we do? I suggest that we start by honoring small commitments. There is a Persian proverb which says, “Do little things now; so shall big things come to thee by and by asking to be done.” That contains not only great wisdom but great common sense. Dependability in big things is built up, bit by bit, as we learn faithfulness in the little things of everyday relationships. So look for some small commitment you can keep today. Then look for another one tomorrow, and keep doing that day after day. In time, you’ll see that you’ve become dependable.
Commitments can sometimes be hard to make. But in the end, it is not the making of commitments that counts — it is the keeping of them. So let’s be people on whom others are not afraid to depend.
“An acre of performance is worth the whole world of promise” (James Howell).