—1 Nephi 3:7
Being dependable means that we do what we have said we would do, when we said we would do it, and in the best way we can. Being dependable brings us a feeling of success and self-respect, and it helps others trust us. Our Heavenly Father wants us to be dependable.
Discuss the following questions with your family:
What if a sky diver’s parachute didn’t open?
What if the brakes on a car didn’t hold?
What if dad didn’t go to work?
What if the bishop didn’t go to church?
On two large sheets of paper, place the headings Dependable and Undependable. Have someone read the gospel truth above, then ask the family to describe a day in the life of a dependable person and of an undependable person. List the actions of both kinds of people and discuss the results. Stress the positive results of being dependable.
Discuss the following or similar problems and how the participants in each situation might feel:
Several boys have accepted a quorum assignment, but only the leaders show up.
It was Mary’s turn to do the dishes, but she ran off to play with a friend instead.
A father puts off his home teaching until the end of the month, then becomes ill.
Have family members list some of their responsibilities at home, school, and Church. Then have them list opposite each responsibility, the names of those who are depending on them. Have them consider what will happen if they do not fulfill these responsibilities.
Help family members understand that the Lord wants us to be dependable. Use the example of Nephi in 1 Nephi 3:7, of the stripling warriors in Alma 53:20–21, or of any other similar story from the Book of Mormon.
Ask your family to identify the problem in each of the following situations:
Sister Thomas agreed to help with a community fund-raising drive. But she is so busy with her Church callings and family responsibilities that she has to back out.
Sarah agreed to help her brother Greg with his math lessons. But she didn’t realize he would need more than a few minutes’ help each week. Now she avoids being at home when he starts his homework. Dad usually has to help him instead.
Hold up a paper with the word dependability on it and discuss what this word means. Explain that in order to be dependable we must (1) know what is expected (2) know when we are to do it (3) know how well we should do it.
Help your family members see that before they promise to do something, they should find out what, when, and how, and agree to do it only if they can meet those requirements.
Role-play some situations where assignments are given in a vague way (such as, “Will you take care of the front lawn please?”) Have family members ask for a clear assignment before agreeing to do it.
Tell the following true experience of President N. Eldon Tanner:
“I remember another thing [my father] taught me which was very important. As a bishop he was not able to spend the time at home that some men can who are not bishops. He left us one afternoon while he was going out to look after his flock in the ward, and my brother and I were assigned to do certain things. He came back a little sooner than he had intended, or than we had expected him to come back anyway, and we hadn’t accomplished what he had asked us to do. We had some calves in the corral we thought needed riding, and so we went about to accommodate those calves.
“I will never forget the whipping my father gave me when he came in and found we had not done the work which we had been assigned. He called me over to him and he said, ‘My boy, I thought I could depend upon you.’ That is all he said.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1964, p. 51; or Improvement Era, June 1964, p. 481.)
What should you do when you have disappointed someone by failing to keep your word?
Discuss the need to apologize and to try to find a way to make up for our failure.
Read the following case studies and discuss what each person should do at this point.
A teenager promised his parents he would be home at 10:00 P.M. He got so involved in a game at a friend’s house that he didn’t notice the time until almost 10:30 P.M.
The high priests group was assigned to clean a widow’s yard. Brother Brown signed up to help before he remembered that he had promised to take his son fishing that morning.
Jane, a talented artist, had agreed to make some posters for a Relief Society lesson. Now it is late Saturday night, and Jane hasn’t done it yet. She also needs to finish preparing her own Sunday School lesson for tomorrow.
Discuss the need to make sacrifices at times in order to keep our word and the need to apologize when we have planned poorly and will not be able to do what we have promised. Sometimes we can call on others to help us or offer to fulfill our obligation at another time.
To reward dependability, try one or more of the following activities with your family:
As family members grow in dependability, spotlight them in a family home evening by telling of their dependable behavior.
Have family members write up experiences of the dependable behavior of other family members. Place these experiences in a box or bowl, draw them out one at a time, and read them aloud.
Have the family make a poster to encourage dependable behavior and place it in a predominant place where all can see it.
1 Timothy 6:20 (Be trustworthy.)
Alma 53:1–23 (Story of the stripling warriors.)
See also “Dependability” in the Topical Guide.
“Dare to Do Right,” Children’s Songbook, p. 158.