Saturday, December 20, 2008

On Punctuality

I found this posted on a blog, Journeymen, and thought it was interesting:

“Some are habitually on time, others are habitually late; no one can be on time all the time, and no one needs to be always late. If five people have agreed to meet at a certain time and place, and one is fifteen minutes late, he has used up one hour in terms of manpower, for he has taken away fifteen minutes from each of the others' against their will. If they are wise, they will spend that time in reading or in some other useful way, but the latecomer ought not to presume on their goodwill if he can possibly help it. He might have the boldness to think–or to say–that they need to learn patience, that they are to be anxious in nothing–all of which is true, but he is not the man to tell them that. What he needs to remember, long before the appointment, is ‘rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way’ (Rom. 14:13); that he has no right to waste others’ time.
Of course, no one can keep the phone or the doorbell from ringing just before he leaves home, nor can he prophesy what will happen on the way; but it is always a good rule to start just a little earlier than you think you need to.
Every Christian worker can discipline himself to be habitually on time, by careful management and foresight. It relieves other people of much anxiety, helps them not to waste time and thus makes life easier for them. It is a matter of common honesty and Christian courtesy, and is in line with the in junction to ‘let all things be done decently and in order’ (I Cor. 14:40). ” —-Elisabeth Elliot’s Father

I'm a big fan of Elisabeth Elliot, but I'm not sure I totally agree with her father that punctuality is a Christian virtue so much as it is a cultural one. What do you think?


  1. Being punctual is SO important to me. Of course, living in South Asia helped me relax....a little bit!

    When I was growing up, my parents taught us to always be on time. If we were late, we were disrespecting those who were waiting on us.

    I have to admit that I view perpetual tardiness as being pretty selfish.

  2. Oh good, I thought you'd deleted this post... (it showed up today on my feedreader but is dated from last week or so).

    Anyway, I think this is interesting... culture plays such a part here. On the one hand, in America it would be rude in some places to be late. On the other hand, my home gathering in Texas used to habitually start at least 15 minutes late.

    Jesus didn't have a timepiece that kept him to-the-minute "on-time". He considered others and served them, and yet He also sometimes said some hard things (like when his family was clamoring for his time, etc.) that don't seem very "WWJD" (TM).


    Interesting topic.

  3. Jess,

    Thanks for pointing out the time Jesus had his family wait. I think it's hard for us Americans to see a lot of things that are ingrained in our culture as just that - culture - and not necessarily "Christian".

    (I'm still trying to figure some timing things out on blogger. I wrote the post last week but wasn't ready to post it. Sorry for the confusion.)


    I think I'd agree with you that perpetual tardiness can be selfishness after a certain point. But for me it's not selfish until the person is an hour or more late. Haha! Funny how culture changes you.

  4. I agree that punctuality is a cultural issue, not a Biblical one. That is probably because of being in other countries though. I think that it's difficult to see the cultural context which you are in until you've stepped out of it.


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