John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, said his first sermon at the church was 1 hour and 15 minutes long because there was no clock.
The next week A LARGE CLOCK was installed. *
I read some cute humor about being late. It seems a little girl, dressed in her Sunday best, was running as fast as she could, trying not to be late for Bible class. As she ran she prayed, “Dear Lord, please don’t let me be late! Dear Lord, please don’t let me be late!”
While she was running and praying, she tripped on a curb and fell, getting her clothes dirty and tearing her dress. She got up, brushed herself off, and started running again!
As she ran she once again began to pray, “Dear Lord, please don’t let me be late. But please don’t shove me either!” **
When I traveled with a revival team, the director, Del Fehsenfeld, Jr., was a careful to start meetings in churches on time, but he was a stickler about our team meetings.
Once, when several team members were late and we had to wait for their arrival before beginning, our director waited until we were all settled and then said – quietly but firmly – “Some of you have stolen the other team members’ time and you need to ask their forgiveness.”
Are the time, I thought he was being a little severe. But the more I thought about it, it made sense. I realized lateness, especially habitual tardiness, was rude and thoughtless. Those who cared about punctuality had to wait for others to arrive.
Granted, we need to give each other grace. But when team members, employees and even family members consistently show up late, perhaps it’s time for a loving but pointed “conversation.”
To encourage accountability, one of the things our revival team director did was to have all the team members memorize some applicable scriptures for diligence and wise use of time.
- 1 Corinthians 15:58 – “…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
- Colossians 4:5 – “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.”
- Ephesians 5:15-17 – “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
In our director’s thinking, being late wasn’t just about causing others to wait. It was also about not wisely using the time God allots us. Our director wanted to impress a powerful principle in our hearts:
Time is more than time … it’s about people, ministry and accomplishing the will of God in the world. It’s a matter of stewardship.
We surely can waste time, abuse time and yes, even steal others’ valuable time though our thoughtless behavior.
Often it’s just a matter of poor planning on our part; and if it’s a regular issue, perhaps we need some help so we won’t cause an offense and so we can be more effective in accomplishing our tasks. We can ask God to show us the tools and attitudes we need to make some time adjustments.
Maybe, like MacArthur, we just need a bigger clock!
What do you do to help yourself arrive on time? Which of the scriptures above speaks to you today?
* “John MacArthur: The Infographic” by Josh Byers and Tim Challies, 1-28-14, Challies.com