Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Humans are Inherently Unreliable

...so don't rely on them. You can scarcely hope to control the actions of any person. But hope only goes so far. The person you can best control is yourself, so do your best to ensure that you don't come upon failure.

ReminderSometimes you're waiting for a phone call. The importance doesn't matter; it varies from as important as "I found a kidney donor, you can keep your's," to "I'll call before I come over." Person X is late to lunch, sending ripples through your schedule which result in a fast food dinner, grumpy moods, and late bedtimes. Ever really needed someone to pull through for you in crunch time, and that person never came through?

The collection of Old Testament quotations in Romans 3:10-18 state that humans are fallen and sinful. Now, just because someone lets you down doesn't mean that he did it on purpose. Perhaps it was an honest mistake. Or perhaps it was due to laziness or sloth. On the other side, you must realize that everyone else is just as busy or busier than you are, and that you are not everyone else's first priority. Thinking so is the sin of pride. The fallen-ness and sinful-ness of humans reaches both the let-downer and let-downee as well.

Although I've only experienced 25 years of life, plenty of people have let me down and have not kept their word on various items. My point is that as far as it concerns you, do not hang your life's plans (figurative hyperbole) on the word of another person. You will be let down. As I said before, the person you can best control is yourself, so take your own measures to eliminate the consequences of human failure.

Some examples:

  • Don't rely on the I'm-coming-over-now phone call as a reminder to start your house cleaning - do it ahead of time.

  • Don't rely on people to be on time - build some fudge time into your schedule or don't schedule things so close to one another.

  • A related one is not to rely on people to be good judges of times, e.g. "It'll only take me 10 minutes to finish" but it ends up taking 30 minutes. Joe or Sally says 10 minutes. Joe and Sally are chronically late people. Multiply their estimates by 2 or 3.

  • Don't rely on people to call you when they say they will - if it's something very important, you call them.

  • Related to that one is when you're trying to get services from a business. You sit back and wait, trusting that they will get to your request ASAP. They are a busy business and the squeaky wheel gets the grease or the oil or whatever the saying is. Be pushy, otherwise you are on the bottom of the pile.

Of course, there are people who are very good about integrity and keeping their word. Those people are a breath of fresh air. A Christian should seek to be like that, for a Christian's yes should be yes and no should be no; there should be no need to say things like "I swear I will do this for you." From a Christian, "I will" or "I won't" should give you all the reassurance you need.

This is not to say that I hate everyone who lets me down. As aforementioned, I know that I am not the center of everyone else's universe. As a Christian, I try to extend grace whenever I am able, because God gives grace to me on a immensely or infinitley larger scale. I know that I will let people down (although I'll try not to), and I hope they will extend grace to me as well.

What do you think? Do you agree with what I've said? Am I too jaded? Care to share any examples of inherently unreliable humans in your life?

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2 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Birdie

    So true.

  • Sherry

    I think you hit the nail on the head with that one. We all mess up, so we need to forgive others who do too. But we can only make sure we are keeping our own word. You show a lot of wisdom for a 25 year old.