How is it that some people are never late and others always are? How can an issue always arise that creates the conditions for being late? There may a few good reasons, but overall, the leader sends some certain messages when they are late. I’m far from perfect in this regard, but I do have high respect for the people I work with who are always early! It’s almost a given and it’s great to count on.
I’ve been reading a book called The Servant by James Hunter. In this quick reading leadership fable, I’ve been reminded of some valuable basics for my own life.
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Here are three negative messages a leader sends when arriving late:
Negative Message #1 – Your time is more important than theirs.
Negative Message #2 – Other people aren’t that important to you.
Negative Message #3 – You don’t worry about sticking to your word or commitments.
Occasional to chronic lateness is not only disrespectful, it’s very habit forming. The more you’re late, the more late you become. Eventually, you even embrace it and make jokes about not being able to get out of the house or through the traffic.
Most often the person who is late means nothing by it, but their actions speak louder than their words. They are sending the messages that their life and schedule is what really counts, that other people can wait on them, and they aren’t able to live within the constraints of time, commitment and self-discipline.
Maybe you’re late running from one thing to the next with no possibility of being on time. Then you’re overextended. You’ve planned an impossible schedule, frustrating both you and those around you. To fix this, it’s going to require the hard work of pruning and saying no.
Over the years, I’ve noticed those serving in church ministry staff roles are a little looser when it comes to time and that’s not good. The role of a ministry leader is no less important than the role of countless other high stakes jobs in life. Treat time and promptness with respect and raise the expectation on yourself and your paid and/or volunteer teams.
One final thought on this topic for ministry leaders is the commitment to be on time for your home life. Make sure you are home when you say you’re going to be. Don’t be on time for every meeting at church and then be late for dinner. There are some times when ministry whirlwind and crisis can change the schedule, but do your best to balance those times at home. This is all the more reason to be on time on the “regular” days.
Become the kind of leader people can trust to be on time. Become the kind of family who is on time. Be the person that everyone else can count on. Don’t fall into bad habits, sending the negative messages that come with living a life of being late.
Send your people the right message: they matter to you and you are committed to keeping discipline in your life and schedule.
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