When attending meetings, services, and other church events, sometimes we end up “running late”. Projects are due and we may miss the deadline. It happens. However, we shouldn’t take this lightly. We want to be on time for various reasons we’ll talk about today.
If you’re someone like me, a volunteer Lighting Designer and leader of a lighting ministry, you may use the excuse of not being punctual as “this isn’t my real job”. I argue that it IS your job as we are called to serve in God’s house. By arriving late or finishing late, without urgency, we are late for Him.
Of course, for paid staff, it’s automatically expected for you to be punctual. Though this article is geared towards the volunteer, this can also apply to paid staff. As leaders of our ministry, we must set the standard. We must be timely in all of our work in order to keep the ministry moving forward.
So, what does the Bible say?
1 Corinthians 14:40 says “Let all things be done decently and in order.”
The idea here is that we are meant to do things a certain way at a certain time. Being late can throw things out of balance and order.
Ecclesiastes 3:2 says “A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 stresses there being a time for everything. But, I wanted to focus on verse 2 because it presents a warning about being late.
If a farmer plants too late, his crops will grow too late and he potentially misses his harvest as the crops would still be trying to grow as the seasons change. It’s the same with us. We want to be punctual farmers so we can reap the harvest…on time.
Finally, a couple of verses from Philippians helps us see that it can be selfish to be late.
Philippians 2:3-4: Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Being late shows a lack of respect for others’ time. It makes you appear as only thinking about yourself. As leader, your actions impact everybody in your team and can impact your Sunday service.
How can we be better?
There are a few things you can do to manage your time better.
Time to use the organizer/planner
There are plenty of booklets that allow you to fill in your appointments and such. The majority of smartphones have this function as well. It’s time to write it down, especially if you’re someone who is forgetful.
Overbooking your schedule while not allowing breathing room for “detours” will put you in a constant state of “GO, GO, GO” which can lead to not only you running late to things, but a stress on your body. There is a time for rest, after all.
Figure out how long things take
This one is interesting. How long does it normally take to do your hair? How long is the drive? What about breakfast? Morning devotional? When I get ready for service or work, I make sure I know how long it will approximately take to get things done before I need to hit the road. I give myself a few extra minutes in each step and it usually adds up to an extra 20 minutes for “detours”.
What I mean is, if breakfast is 30 minutes usually, strive for 30 minutes, but also tell yourself you need 35. Save that five minutes for that potential detour. Give yourself some cushion. Set your alarm to account for this or find more efficient ways of doing what you do.
Letting things go
We want to do everything! The reality is, we can’t. And while you may feel like you’re letting people (or God) down, the reality is you’re doing people a service. If you can’t serve in a constructive way in a ministry, it might be time to let it go. Perhaps, during this time in your life, you simply can’t be a full time member. It doesn’t mean you did something wrong at all. You just need to stop spreading yourself so thin in life.
Things happen and we end up late at some point. But, if you find yourself late regularly, it’s time to take a look at your time. You don’t get it back. People don’t get it back. It’s precious. Use it wisely.
What drives you to be punctual?