On "Tardiness"

2/22/2000

Question from elsewhere…

“Is it important to make sure that people are ‘on time’ when something is planned among the saints? I’m sure that ‘the law’ is not desirable, but I can’t get over the feeling that being late to everything is equally wrong. Help me out?”

I’m sure you’re like the millions of american and african and european families that grew up being yanked by the hair to “get to church on time.” Great stress and tension, and then hypocrisy as everyone smiled at everyone in “the building” and acted spiritual—after the junk getting there “on time.” SO, obviously THAT’S not what we want to re-create. But, slackerly behavior that is disrespectful of everyone else is not acceptable either. That leaves us without “the law” (“EVERYONE had BETTER be here ON TIME!”) which creates the stress and barriers between people and without ignoring others’ well-being with the lazy or irresponsible tardiness. So, what’s left? We can’t do either of the more obvious choices! Here is one possibility of what’s LEFT, if it were (for example) a children’s basketball practice: you could go ahead and start close to “on time,” even if just a few are there. And then, those that are “late” stay on the sidelines and watch until you have a chance to ask them one by one, “Was it a Jesus reason you were late, or a selfish reason?” If it was Kingdom business, work them right into the lineup or drill or event. If it is anything else, make them run 10 windsprints and let them know next time it will be twenty, and then thirty and then forty.

I guess I’m saying that it is mandatory that we “seek first the Kingdom” and no one should be rushing to get off the phone with a crying person, or neglecting to correct a child, or cut short a Jesus conversation in order to RUSH to an event or dinner or a basketball practice. That kind of stress for lower reasons should be avoided totally. HOWEVER, if it is slackerliness, or lack of focus, or lack of respect for authority, or lack of love for others, or lack of planning that is causing the tardiness—it must STOP. That too is “seeking first the Kingdom.” Dealing with character flaws of any kind will please Jesus, and we should help each other by talking about these kinds of things when they come up. Does that help? In Him,

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