Monday, October 13, 2008

Punctuality (Or: I Am Grumpy at Night)

I love Intervarsity, I really do, but sometimes I get really frustrated with the way the leadership team works. It kills me that meetings will get canceled without the team members all getting notified; that nothing starts on time and nothing is expected to; that our staff worker occasionally just isn't there; that fellow Bible study leaders don't always show, and don't warn me in advance; etc.

To be fair, there are extenuating circumstances for some of these cases. Irregularities in attendance and meetings tends to result from school holidays (notably, Jewish holy days), and the staff worker did in fact send an email to warn us that she couldn't come, even if I didn't get it until after the meeting had already happened.

But starting on time? It's not that hard to do. You make a decision about what's going to happen, in accordance with what is feasible, and then you act on that decision. Being on time is about following through on your commitment. It's about respecting the authority of the person who asked you to come at that time; it's about respecting the time of the people you are asking to come at that time. When a leader asks his team to come at 7:00pm, and he doesn't arrive until 7:03,--and most of the team is still not present at 7:10,--and then the people who are there are just standing in the hallway till 7:20,--and then once they make it into a room, nothing is coordinated for another 10 minutes--then that leader has insulted his team. By asking for that time and then not using it, he has made the statement that he deserves their time not because he's going to use it for something valuable, but simply because he asked for it, and that the other things his team might have been doing during that half hour simply do not matter to him.

At least, that's the message this scenario sends me.

Granted, his team still has free will to come late or not come. Granted, they may have every opportunity to ask him to change his policy. Granted, there may be reasons, even good reasons, that nothing can be done at precisely 7:00. Granted, the fellowship that can occur during that half hour is by no means worthless.

Nevertheless, some of this leader's team members honored him by giving up their free time, and he did not honor their sacrifice. The result is discouragement and frustration for the team.

You can probably guess that I am one of the punctual team members. I must confess that my irritation with this situation has, at its root, a hunger for acknowledgment and respect, and a desire for things to go according to plan, and a demand to be treated the way I want. Essentially, I am angry because my pride has been insulted. Ultimately, I am anxious because I don't trust God with my task-list. I have my own issues to work on.

But still. Could we please start on time?

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