Ever had that day where you get up, look at your clock, and do a double take?
"Oh snaaap. Does that really say a whole hour after when I meant to get up!?"
I've definitely done that.
I've also had those mornings full of the "one more thing" syndrome. You know, when you get up to make breakfast, and notice that old food in your fridge you meant to throw out a week ago, so you dump that in the garbage, and then it smells, so you take out the garbage and while you are out you may as well grab the mail, and oh, look! An invitation to a family party! Better put that on the calendar real quick so we don't forget, and then there is that email I need to read...and before you know it the time you planned on getting ready to go to work is gone and you're going to be 20 minutes late!?
Timeliness has been on my heart lately. God's shown me some truths about this that have radically changed my perspective and pushed me to pursue excellent timeliness. Honestly, I am so not perfect at this yet...but I've gotten a lot better in the past year and I plan to get even better in the future!
1. Timeliness gives honor. When I am on time, I give honor to those I am meeting. When I'm late, I'm dishonoring them--and that is a big deal in His eyes. In fact, giving honor is such a big deal, God made it a commandment to us: "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor" (Romans 12:10). I'm going to do everything I can to never think lightly of God and His commandments.
How is timeliness showing honor? Being on time shows that I value you because it says, "Every minute with you is important to me." It also shows that I value your time, because it says, "Your time is important and I' respect that."
2. My reputation represents the reputation of Christ. I want to be known as someone who gives honor, because that is who Christ is. This applies in every situation. When you show up on time to that meeting at school or work, you tell the world that Christians are responsible, faithful people--and that knocks down one wall on their path to meeting the real Jesus. When you show up on time to teach Sunday School, that shows that you care about serving your body of Christ--like Jesus does.
3. I can't believe my excuses anymore. Another way timeliness represents Jesus it shows His nature--He is always on time. He is always ready. Yeah, yeah, He's omnipresent. But get this: Jesus has ALREADY given us the power to do EVERYTHING we need to live a Godly life and to do all He has called us to (2 Peter 1:3 and Philippians 2:13)! Through these verses, another life changing revelation is revealed: we no longer have any excuse for any behavior that doesn't line up with His kingdom. We have everything we need to live as He has called us to live--and that includes honoring others through timeliness. If we choose to believe our excuses--such and such came up, the roads were bad, my alarm didn't go off, today was busy, even something more legitimate-feeling like I have a disorder that makes it hard for me to be on time--then we are saying that the power of Christ is not enough to beat those circumstances.
Ok, Tori. Shut up. I don't want to believe you. The traffic being bad is not my fault! I hear you--God has been challenging me in this too...and I don't like it either, but it's truth, and through this truth we can be set free from tardiness into honoring timeliness!
So what do I do?
If I'm late because of a circumstance beyond my ability to discover, then the first time, I need to walk in grace for myself and apologize for it, not justify it with an excuse.
The next time, however, it is my fault (thankfully there is more grace--but we cannot let ourselves become accustomed to taking it for granted). Why is it your fault? Because you knew, and when you don't change, you chose to dishonor (ouuchh). We just need to take time and be honest with ourselves about what life looks like:
- You know there is going to be traffic. Especially between 3:30 and 5 when people leave work and school. Plan extra time for it.
- Things get crazy in the morning, and the more kids you have, or the more you want to get ready, the more time it's going to take. It's not possible to pack 45 minutes of preparation into 15 minutes. Not wasting time is important, but there is actually a limit to how fast you can get ready. Give your self enough time.
- You can help those you depend on. I know a lot of people who depend on others for rides (I'm one of them actually!). If you need to be some where, you can use your time to help them get out the door. Especially if they repeatedly make you late, I challenge you to humbly approach them and ask what you can do to help them get out the door by X:XX time. Honor them even if they haven't gotten the timeliness revelation yet.
- Something is going to come up every day. Now that I've told you, you know it. So you need to give yourself 10-15 minutes wiggle room between things. Worst case scenario? You wait in your car for 10-15 minutes and get to praise God that much more than you planned to that day. Win!
How do I make more time in my day?
From what I can tell, there are three ways you can "make more time" in your day.
- Get up earlier. I heard this awesome testimony from the leaders my church's welcoming ministry. They realized that being on time was essential for honoring guests and members of our church, so they did the "15-min earlier" strategy. Every Sunday, they set their alarm 15-minutes earlier (and actually got their butts out of bed then...which I seriously struggle with). It took them multiple weeks--four a believe--to get up early enough to have a stress-free morning and get to church on time. "An hour earlier??" You say? If that's what it takes, yes. You aren't going to be able to somehow "get ready faster" in the morning. You need to give yourself more time. (Side note: this may mean you have to go to bed earlier, too.) The best part of this story? Jesus has already given us what we need to do this. Have trouble falling asleep early? There is a verse for you to stand on. Struggle with getting up in the morning? Make a commitment to meet with God first--and then honor Him with your timeliness. (And coffee/tea, take a hot shower, put your alarm on the other side of the room...oh, and stand on this verse.)
- Say no. If you are constantly late and rushing everywhere, or staying up at all hours to finish your work, or stressing and double-booking yourself, you are doing too much. It's time to get out a pad of paper and actually write out all your commitments and how much time you honestly spend on them every week. Then determine if how you are spending your time lines up with your goals. If not, grab that Bible and worship music, listen to Jesus about what to take out of your life, and then, DO IT.
- Stay focused. Oh my goodness, this one is hard for me. That whole "one more thing" syndrome? Totally my battle every day. But you have to stay focused. Maybe setting a "refocus" alarm that goes off every 15 minutes would help you stay on task? Maybe blocking facebook for a week, or getting the discipline to only go on during a certain time of day? Maybe a friend who keeps you accountable with this (Peter does it for me!)?
Don't give up until you stand in your victory! Timeliness is something you can have in your life.