We have all either had this done to us or we have done it to others. Here’s the scenario: You said you would babysit Friday night, but then you got invited to do something more fun, so you flaked out, leaving the parents high and dry. Or you said you would help with the set-up for the party, but you got a headache and needed a nap instead. You said you would show up at 2 p.m., but you arrived at 3:30. You said you would bring dessert, but you got too rushed for time and decided you couldn’t do it. You accepted the invitation to the wedding, but then you decided it would make your day too congested, so you were a no-show.

It’s easy to flake. And Christians in particular can do it to one another and presume that fellow Christians will overlook it, be understanding, and let it go. After all, we are commanded to be forgiving, to go the extra mile, and to let love cover it. But all those verses apply to both parties, not just to one.

Flaking means that your word cannot be trusted. “But I was just volunteering. It wasn’t like a paid job.” But that just makes it worse. You offered. You committed. You said you would be there.  You spoke carelessly.

Sometimes moms step in on behalf of their children and flake for them. “Susie can’t babysit after all because she was invited to go to the beach.” But if you want your daughter to grow up to be dependable, you will tell Susie in no uncertain terms that she is not allowed to be a flake. If she said she would do it, then she must follow through. That’s what Christians do. Too bad for the beach. You’re busy. You’re calendar is full.

If you decide that you must not be a flake and that your children must be taught not to be flakes, then you will learn to pause before making commitments. This is always good. Say you’ll think about it. Consider. Don’t make hasty commitments and don’t allow your children to do so either. But if you do, or if they do, then unless it is an emergency (with the bone sticking out), you are obligated to follow through.

You said you’d help with the kids’ field trip, but the sun was shining, and you thought it would be fun to work in the garden instead. You simply cannot flake out. Your word should be dependable, trustworthy, and reliable. Don’t be a flake. And don’t let your kids grow up to be flakes. I’m pretty sure God doesn’t like it.

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13 thoughts on “The Flake

  1. Thanks, Nancy. A good reminder that we should be training our kids on this issue at an early age (“You said you would play Candy Land with your sister, so finish the game”) as well as take it to heart ourselves. I’ve had to remind my kids (and myself) of how Psalm 15 describes the righteous man: “He who swears to his own hurt and does not change.” If we should keep our promises even when it hurts, surely we should do so when it is merely inconvenient.

    And, like you said, sometimes we need to resist feeling guilty about saying “no” in the first place.

  2. “unless it is an emergency (with the bone sticking out)…” Love this!!

    I’m so guilty of this mainly because I tend to over commit. Thanks for the reminder that my children are watching — and learning. ~Lisa

  3. We need to learn and teach this one early. Just like dandruff, “flakes” can cause a lot of embarrassment and discomfort for all parties. Yuck!

  4. Thanks for the good words, Nancy. I think it also gives a great opportunity to remember God’s sovereignty in our lives and schedules. He knew we committed to the babysitting job before the invitation to the beach even came our way. It’s comforting to know He wanted us at the babysitting job and not the beach – otherwise the events would have happened the other way around!

  5. I think it is really brave of you to post stuff like this. Brave and necessary, actually. I am amazed that you get so few trolls here, though it’s probably because of the way the comments are regulated. If you had open comments, can you imagine all of the awful stuff that women would be posting here?

    I get sick to death of modern female misbehavior, and how little is said of it. Especially among Christian women.

  6. Nancy –

    This was a great reminder for me.

    My husband has been a great help to me in this area. I tend to over-commit and over-do, and he has suggested that I ‘blame’ him. Instead of responding with a yes, to say “Let me talk to Paul first.” His opinion almost always amounts to, “well, whatever you want to do/think is wise,” but he knows that if I give it fifteen minutes instead of fifteen seconds, I’ll have a more balanced approach. He serves as my sounding board, and no Christian will give me any lip for checking with hubby first, which is not always the case for other ‘let me get back to you’ mechanisms. I am sure many other husbands out there would be glad to be the reason for a delayed response, especially if it meant less frazzled wives!

    Oh, and I’m definitely stealing “bone-sticking out emergency” –

    As ever, thank you for your work!

  7. Ann,
    Feel free to steal it from me, because I took it straight from my husband (notice how I didn’t call it stealing…). On his sermon-prep day he doesn’t take any appointments unless there is a bone sticking out.

  8. My pastor’s dear late wife used to have a saying. When her kids were all old enough to be “ignored” during waking hours, she developed the practice of having some daily “down time” alone in her room. She informed the kids that during this time, they were not to disturb her unless there was “smoke, blood, or exposed bone.” I still use that on my kids.

  9. Thanks for that – I’m too prone to consider an hour or so after I planned to be there not /actually/ flaking, but it is, and I needed the reminder.

    On a different note, any advice for when you’re on the receiving end of a flake? My husband and I recently experienced a minor growth experience navigating around the schedule of someone who flaked on us. It was a pretty minor situation, but it made me realize that I don’t really know to respond with both grace and wisdom – grace to cover a tired friend and wisdom to not get our lives thrown too off kilter.

  10. its called commitment- that’s what we taught our children you finish the season. We are all sinners and let other and ourselves down and be careful- don’t expect too much from others.

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