Wednesday, August 15, 2012

There were seasons of my life when always I ran late. I woke up late, got the kids ready late, got out the door late, and arrived minutes after a program started. And I always had a good excuse … at least in my mind.


My reasons for being late were justifiable.  My three little boys were the “problem” for years.  Just when I’d get one ready to go and turn my attention to another, the first would spill cereal down his front. Or a diaper needed to be changed.  Why did they that always happen just as I was about to walk out the door?  It seemed like a conspiracy!  Then someone always left something in the house, my husband called at the most inconvenient times and traffic!  Traffic was always a good fall-back excuse.

For years it never seemed like my fault!  Until the day I got annoyed with a friend for her flimsy late excuses.  My mind clicked through various solutions to her time crunches, and thankfully, before I could spout any hollow wisdom, God turned the spotlight on me.

My own excuses sounded weak.  And as hard as it was to do, I started being honest about the reasons for my own lateness.  Yes, I did have a lot going on.  And no, my babies did not poop on my schedule.   But in my most gut-honest moments, I knew if I had been prepared in advance, there would have been time to graciously deal with interruptions and still be on time.

The more truthful I got with myself, the more God revealed about the importance of being on time.  I learned being late often reveals more about my heart than my organizational skills. As I grasped the implications of a life of lateness, my attitude and practices started to change. Not overnight.  And not easily.  But they did change.  Today I’d love to share some of what I’ve learned.

Being on time …

Tests my responsibility:  God is always watching to see how faithful I am with the little He has given me.  While we may dismiss certain areas of our lives as inconsequential, every daily practice has value to shape our character.  Choosing to be on time is one way I can practice being trustworthy.

Honors others:  “They never start on time anyway!”   That thought bought me a few more minutes and justified a stop at Starbucks even though I was running late.  But whether the meeting starts on time or not doesn’t justify being late.  Arriving on time shows honor to the person who organized it.  And I can offer to help the host with last-minute details.

Increases my ability to love:  When I’m in a hurry, my capacity to love others diminishes.  It starts with those closest to me as I get snippy and impatient.  But showing up late also prohibits me from spending time with others.  If I sneak in the back after something has started, I’ve lost opportunities to chat and catch up with people I care about.  Just a few extra minutes gives me a chance to give someone a hug and ask about her children. It’s amazing how loved people feel with a bit of time and attention.

Teaches me discipline:  I’ve found that if I want to make big changes in my life, I have to start with little ones.  Being on time develops discipline … and that’s something I desperately need more of.  It’s a training ground for bigger things.

There are lots of tips for being on time, like packing bags the day before, and doing what needs to be done first.  But the best tips for me has been getting to the heart of the matter.   Once the benefits of being on time outweighed the benefits of being late, things started to change.

I’m not perfect in this area.  I still have kids and a husband who aren’t always on my time table.  And I’m occasionally over-optimistic about what I can get done before leaving the house.  But those are the exceptions.

Now, if I can just get a handle on work deadlines and emails  …

I’d love to hear your thoughts on being on time.  Do you have any tips to share?  Insights?  Please post your thoughts and let’s continue the conversation.

Source for Today's Devotion:  Roo Magazine Glynnis Whitwer

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