Can you be counted on?
Reliability is a great quality. Knowing that you can count on someone to do what they have promised, attend to their responsibilities, and be there when and where they’re needed is a wonderful thing.
Reliable people understand the value of commitment. They’ve signed up for the long haul. You never have to wonder about their availability or support. They’re rock solid. You can trust them.
The book of Proverbs talks about the importance of being reliable:
Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable? — Proverbs 20:6 (NLT)
Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot. — Proverbs 25:19 (NLT)
In the New Testament book of Acts we find the example of a young man who didn’t understand, and hadn’t yet developed this quality. His name is John Mark.
When Paul and Barnabas headed out on their first missionary trip, they needed a helper to go with them. They chose John Mark. Evidently he seemed enthusiastic, energetic and he most likely expressed a desire to help these men as they set out to share the Gospel and begin new churches. Unfortunately, John Mark’s commitment quotient was low. Over time he proved to be an unreliable helper.
Take a look at what the Bible says about John Mark’s actions:
Now Paul and those with him left Paphos by ship for Turkey, landing at the port town of Perga. There John deserted them and returned to Jerusalem. — Acts 13:13 (TLB)
From Paphos, Paul and company put out to sea, sailing on to Perga in Pamphylia. That’s where John called it quits and went back to Jerusalem. — Acts 13:13 (The Message)
Note the phrases “deserted them” and “called it quits.”
Sadly, at a certain point in his journey with Paul and Barnabas, John Mark left them and went home. He abandoned the cause, jumped ship, bailed out on his responsibilities and left Paul and Barnabas with the pressures and duties God had called him to handle. He proved to be an unreliable helper. His immaturity showed itself. He couldn’t be counted on for the long haul. Paul and Barnabas, and the ministry they were engaged in suffered the pain and consequences of John Mark’s desertion. When he dropped out, the extra weight and ministry burdens he was carrying fell on them.
Here’s something important to remember. When we’re unreliable, when we fail to do what we’re supposed to do, the work doesn’t disappear, it just gets transferred to those over us or under us to handle. Somebody has to carry on. Not only is the load left with others, we miss personal blessings and rewards when we bail out.
When Paul chose a helper for his next mission trip he by-passed John Mark and invited another young man named Timothy. Timothy proved to be a highly reliable assistant. Later Paul described Timothy’s character with these words:
I have no one quite like Timothy. He is loyal, and genuinely concerned for you. Most people around here are looking out for themselves, with little concern for the things of Jesus. But you know yourselves that Timothy’s the real thing. He’s been a devoted son to me as together we’ve delivered the Message. — Philippians 2:20-22 (The Message)
We learn some significant lessons from Timothy’s example. His reliability earned him deep respect and appreciation from Paul. His long-term commitment to assist Paul in ministry also helped advanced the Kingdom of God in great ways. Because he could be trusted and counted on, he could be used by God, and by Paul.
How about you? Are you reliable? Can you be counted on?
Don’t be a quitter. Don’t be a deserter. Be a reliable helper and God will use you in great ways!