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Intersection of Life and Faith

Running Late Again?

  • 2002 3 Apr
Running Late Again?
Make yourself be punctual. Tardiness is another bad habit which needs to be broken, and which any intelligent person, alert to life's obligations, can break. When students glibly cast off their tardiness by the cliché, "Better late than never," Professor Mae Bower of California fame would invariably retort, "Better never late." Then she would remind her students that "trifles make perfection, but perfection is no trifle." And punctuality is one of the "trifles," though verily a huge one.

But the habit of being on time will never be acquired unless (1) you are convinced that Christian courtesy demands it - which brings the issue into the realm of ethics; (2) you plan ahead, so that you know without guessing where you need to be and exactly when; (3) you allow yourself a generous margin of time. Some sort of diary or daily reminder must be kept, into which all appointments can be entered, as well as relevant data concerning bus or train timetables, payment schedules, insurance due dates, and of course all regular church and departmental activities. But even such a diary is of no value unless it is consulted frequently, and the week's program is planned accordingly. And even this will not make us efficient, prompt persons unless we eliminate the superfluous, undertake a little less, and then start soon enough to arrive (or be prepared for others to arrive) without breathless flurry and jangled nerves. Look ahead, and start early. These are the two wings of the life that soars.

The man who always lives by split-second timing is apt to die of ulcers before he is fifty. Instead of living up to par, with time and nervous energy to spare, he is scurrying around in a daily "rat race." John Wesley said, "I am always in haste but never in a hurry." He meant that, though he had no time for idleness, he allowed himself sufficient time for his undertakings to carry them through calmly and punctually. The man who thus lives with a margin may have less native ability than the "worry wart," but he seems to have more. He gives the impression of reserve, of quiet strength; others sense that here is a man who knows where he is going and how to get there. And he arrives on time, without fussing and fuming.

Excerpted by permission from The Disciplined Life, copyright 1962 by Richard S. Taylor. All rights reserved. Published by Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minn.,, 1-800-328-6109.

Richard Taylor is professor emeritus of theology and mission at the Nazarene Theological Seminary, where he served on the faculty for 16 years.

What struggles do you face when trying to arrive on time for appointments? How have you been able to manage your time to become more punctual? How has being on time decreased the stress in your life? Visit Crosswalk's forums to discuss this topic by clicking on the link below.