Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Is Punctuality A Godly Trait?

"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time." Colossians 4:5 (KJV)

Once upon a time, we were the family who was late for everything. And this was before we had kids! Here is what an evening looked like for Andy and I. We would have plans to meet someone somewhere at 6:30. We would both be home from work by 4:00 or so, have a bite to eat, look at the clock, get ourselves ready for going out and then sit and do nothing. Truly. We would sit around, watch the clock tick, debate whether or not we should go a little early, and then when we had about five minutes before it was time to leave, we would get caught up in doing something. Quickly doing dishes, throwing in a load of laundry, or flipping through the channels, seeing if there was anything we needed to record. Inevitably, we would end up dashing out the door at 6:35 with a ten minute drive in front of us, only to arrive at our destination 15 minutes late. And the whole time we were driving, we would be tense with each other because we were late. And why were we late? Simply because we were being poor stewards of our time.

Most often, people didn't mind that we were late, but over time, when kids came into the picture, we really had to start being better prepared to go places. After the first few times we went somewhere without a fully stocked diaper bag, we started learning to prepare to get ready earlier. It took some time, that's for sure. But now, we're becomes such so caught up in being ready to go early that it's natural for the whole family. In fact, a few weeks ago we all were ready a full 15 minutes early on a Sunday morning, so we left and went to church, and arrived a full 30 minutes before service was to start. Lol. We were practically the first ones in the building. And while we were laughing about it, I couldn't help but think how things have changed, and I had to thank God for the change in attitude and the willingness to be prepared.

So why is punctuality a Godly trait? Well, I happen to think that when we are punctual to a meeting, get-together, play-date, church service, we're telling the other people that we are gathering with that we value their time as much as our own. We honor God when we value and honor other people's commitment. In many instances, we all are sacrificing the same amount of time to get together. The very least we can do is show up on time. I think of our worship practices at church. When some people don't show up until 15 minutes after practice was supposed to begin, the whole group is behind. And some of us, who showed up 10 minutes early, are well aware that we just spent 25 minutes waiting when we could have been doing something productive. It's simply being respectful of those around us to be considerate of the clock.

"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

16Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16

The devil would love nothing more than to see us disregard time. I'll tell you what, he loves those Sunday mornings when we decide to sleep a few minutes later. Why? Because then we're running around like crazy, getting kids ready, taking showers, finding all the shoes, jackets and Bibles, making sure the kids eat something for breakfast, and the whole time, we're wound up and irritated. Andy and I are usually pretty short with each other, the kids get scolded once or twice, and by the time we're all seated in the van on our way to church, we're all in a foul mood, and the last thing we want to do is go to church and be joyful and cheery. The simple solution here is obvious, set the alarm clock earlier. But I'll tell you, we really struggled with that! That devil wants us to love to sleep in the morning, and even ten minutes seemed like it was a big deal. But then we did that, we turned the clock back, and our Sunday's became easy as a breeze. Andy and I can take our time getting ready, and we each lend a hand in getting the kids ready, and get their things together for Kids Church, and by the time we get to church we are already feeling worshipful because we've had such a great morning together without the stress.

School days are the same way. Way back when Abigail first started kindergarten, I calculated carefully just how late we could sleep before getting ready for school. It didn't take me long to realize that I did not want to spend the next dozen years yelling at my daughter to hurry it up. So we got up earlier. Now she's ready for school a good half hour before it's time to go, but then she can just relax, read a little or watch some TV before school, and we're all much happier for it.

When we look at the time we have, and realize it is a gift from God, it makes us look at things a little differently. The time to be sitting at the computer reading headlines and checking e-mails is not when it is time to be heading out the door. We need to think like God would and be considerate and thoughtful and respectful of other people's commitment to the same time. Oh sure, there will always be days where a child has to dash to the bathroom just as it's time to leave, but that should be the exception, not the norm. As I spend my time and my days wanting to be more like Christ, I know that he would never have kept someone waiting.

"Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

May God continue to work with us on this. May he continue to place the desire to be respectful of other people and their sacrifice of time. And may he continue to show us areas we need to improve.

"She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness. " Proverbs 31:27

I just know that watching over the affairs of her household includes wise time management. May God continue to work with me personally on this one, that I may not be idle with my time, and that I may use every minute to its full potential.


Rina said...

This is a GREAT post. We're the family who is "always" late, too, and I hate it! Thank you for writing this - it was very convicting!

Erika W. said...

Rina, I will be praying with you as you see where you can improve your family's timing. May you look back and laugh with joy as you witness your family being the first to arrive over and over again.

It's funny, because this was one of those posts that... I'm just not sure where it came from. I woke up this morning and felt like I needed to devote some attention to punctuality, but it felt like a thought out of nowhere. I'm glad to know it wasn't inspired out of thin air.