My cell phone rang; I greeted my neighbor and dear friend, Karen. “Kathy, can you take Stephen and I to the airport tomorrow afternoon?”
“Sure. Would love to.”
“Oh, and we’re arriving home in three weeks, can you pick us up?” I looked at my calendar and realized Larry and I had tentatively hoped to get away then for a few days. While I hesitated, Karen spoke up, “We can ask someone else so it’s no problem if you can’t.”
A matador could not have waved a redder cape before a bull than those words to this be-dependable-or-die Christian. To say “I can’t” would mean causing her to have more trouble and me appearing undependable. After all, helping others is what brings glory to God.
I knew in my mind I was believing lies, but in my heart, it felt dangerous to say no. My value and worth would be threatened in Karen’s eyes. The fact I believed she meant she could find someone else didn’t make a difference. How much I valued being seen dependable was in danger along with feeling good about myself—even at the expense of losing time with my husband. How crazy is that? Proverbs 12:22 is true: Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. In my case,
I was being faithful not for God’s glory but for my own need to be seen as dependable.
But crazy motives are often birthed in childhood. That’s true for me about my dependability. In third grade, I didn’t want to disappoint my favorite teacher, Mrs. Leighton, so I lied to her when a student accused me of saying something mean. It was true but I didn’t want to los Mrs. Leighton’s favor.
But because I really did lie, I developed a “strategy:” dependability. “If I’m dependable, no one will know the horrible truth that I’m a liar. Dependability is the opposite of lying. If you lie, you don’t keep your promises and you aren’t dependable. But if you are dependable, no one can call you a liar!”
Over many years, I honed the skill of dependability. My teachers described me in every report card with the affirming words, “Kathy is very dependable and conscientious.” I made sure no one could ever accuse me of lying.
That’s why my neighbor’s Karen’s request that day brought out the red cape of threatening my dependability. What I thought was a good trait was actually a false worship of my own image.
But God began to work in me. The next day when I was ready to take them to the airport, Karen called saying their plane had been delayed. I knew this was my opportunity to face my false dependability.
“Karen, it’s no problem for me to take you later. But remember how I said I would pick you up in three weeks? Well, I let my idol of dependability convince me to say yes to picking you up. Larry and I actually are hoping to get out of town during that time. I hate to inconvenience you but can you find someone else?” I cringed, wondering how she would respond.
Karen quickly said, “No problem, because our friend at church wanted to do it but we already said we had someone. I’ll let him know he’s on. No problem.”
God had provided. I was so glad and even more grateful for God’s empowering to loosen my muddy motive of false dependability.
This is an excerpt from my book Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory.