“Sorry, I’m late…Again”
Author : Tom Graneau
Have you been late for something: A meeting, an appointment, etc.? Of course you have. It happens to the best of us. Unfavorable circumstances such as traffic problems do sometimes prevent us from getting where we need to be on time. But this is not the same as being habitually late for just about everything.
Customary lateness is a problem, one that is often treated as a misconduct and is punishable in the workplace, schools, and other time-sensitive environments.
People who are plagued with the habit are well aware of the negative implications, but they often find ways to downplay the problem. For instance, those who feel helplessly grooved in a pattern of lateness have come to accept it as a way of life, thinking that there is little that can be done to improve the situation. Though they make the effort to be at work on time, they make excuses for being late for church services, group meetings, and other events. They refer to their tardiness as “fashionably late,” assuming that others will understand and accept their behavior.
There is another group of people who practice the art of lateness deliberately. They delay their arrival to social events and other group meetings on purpose. The aim is to gain attention. Despite the fact that their arrival often disrupts the ongoing events, they show little concern about the situation as long as they are the center of attention for a brief moment.
Time waits for no one
It is commonly understood that “time waits for no one.” The old adage suggests that we need to stay in sync with the ticking of the clock by learning to manage our time wisely.
For most of us, this is not a problem. Occasionally, we run late for scheduled appointments. But for the most part, we manage to stay on time while multitasking our way through various responsibilities in life.
Unfortunately, people who have a reputation for being late, feel less concerned about time sensitivity. They wake up from bed when they feel like it, stroll to appointments at their convenience, and appear to meetings well passed the scheduled time. They do it all without remorse or concern for others who may depend on them.
The ugly side of unpunctuality
Punctually challenged people are often characterized by a few major categories, all of which focuses on a high degree of self-centeredness:
- Rationalizers – have the tendency to blame circumstances instead of admitting responsibility for their lateness.
- Producers – often try to do more than expected within an allowable time frame and run into difficulties with tight schedules.
- Deadliners – enjoys the thrill of beating the time target while rushing to their destination, hoping to make it there on time.
- Indulgers – have little self-control, which is often evident in one or more areas of their lives.
- Rebels – enjoy running late. It’s their way of demonstrating defiance against rules and authority.
- Evaders – elevate their needs above others, thus making less priority for outsiders scheduled events.
Be it helplessness or deliberateness, there are other issues to tardiness that people who practice the habit often take for granted. First, there is nothing cute or fashionable about being late. The habit is a problem that needs immediate attention before it spreads into the family and infects others. Second, among the previously sighted conditions, the problem reveals a careless or irresponsible attitude about time-sensitive events that may not appear to affect the individuals, at least not on a short-term basis. Third, it reveals a lack of self-control, particularly with the difficulty of getting things together in a timely fashion. And fourth, it demonstrates a lack of respect or total disregard for other people’s time, particularly those who have made preparation to be on schedule for the same event.
Fixing tardiness issues
Since rebels, evaders, and deadliners are thrill seekers, other than seeking professional help, little can be done to change their mindset about being late for scheduled events. More than anything, their behavior is spiteful or retaliatory.
On the other hand, Christians should neither practice nor encourage this mindset or attitude. God calls upon his followers to be diligent. Among other things, the term suggests that we need to be active, attentive, careful, persistent, and conscientious, all of which suggest an element of punctuality for success. At the same time, biblical contexts suggest a sensible approach to life, one that encompasses self-balance, self-control, reasonableness, commitment, and devotion to duty. These traits are well within the reach of Christians who want to become more effective people in the kingdom of God.
This means that if your tardiness is more closely related to the other stereotypical characterizations such as rationalizers, producers, and indulgers, you can learn to overcome the problem. Consider some of the followings steps for improvement:
- Rationalizers. If you have the tendency to blame circumstances for your lateness, stop the habit! The problem has more to do with your personal behavior than circumstances. For example, when preparing for an event or an appointment, consider doing the following: Estimate the distance for travel and traffic congestion; allow time for preparation (eating, showing, dressing, etc.); plan to be on location 15 minutes prior to the event; and leave the house or your present location 30 – 60 minutes earlier than usual. If you practice this habit for every event, circumstances will not be an issue. You will be on time for almost all events, except situations that may be truly beyond your control.
- Producers. If your tardiness falls into this group, you’re most likely a high achiever. Like me, you may feel that there isn’t enough time to do everything. However, you need to come to terms with the reality that life is not all about doing or achieving. It is more about balance—reasonably balancing your day with prayer and devotion, work, rest, recreation, socialization, family, and being on time for scheduled events. If Gods willing, the work you are unable to finish today will be done the following day or week; if he is not willing, the project will be irrelevant. In any case, balance is the governing rule.
- Indulgers. It could be that your tardiness relates to this category, which has a lot to do with excessiveness. In theory, this means having or doing too much of some things and not enough of others. In this case, balance is essential in curbing the problem. But more specifically, it raises the question of self-control, which is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24). In this case, Christians are called upon to exercise self-control or self-discipline in equal measures as love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and so forth as part of their spiritual etiquette. This means that if you’re spending too much time on one thing that causes you to be late for something else, you need to reduce your commitment to the project and allow time for other things. This concept should be applied to all areas of your life, which will ultimately boost your productivity and effectiveness as a follower of Christ.
My hope is that you will take this information to heart and make an effort to be on time for all the events in your life.
What are your thoughts on the matter?
Do you have an issue with tardiness? What are you doing to fix the problem? What would you recommend to people who are dealing with the same issue?
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