I was listening to a leadership podcast by pastor Perry Noble earlier this week while I drove. It’s from last year, and has to do with the difference between excellence and extravagance in the local church. Excellent listen – I’d recommend it to you.
One of the things Perry said in passing resonated with me. “Excellence begins on time.”
Leaders, let’s be honest. How often do our meetings start on time, and how often are we waiting till more people or “everyone” gets there? And it’s not just meetings – it can be applied to events, training sessions, workshops, even worship services!
Last week I was at a homeschool convention in South Carolina. I attended one of the workshops, getting there about 5 minutes before the published start time. The presenter was there, had his slides ready to go, and we waited. About 150 of us in the room. Waiting. At about 2 minutes past the start time, he said “we’ll just wait a few more minutes for those folks who are late today.” And we did. The workshop started 7 minutes late. It was good, but what a way to start.
The next day I was going to attend another of that same presenter’s workshops. I was running a bit behind walking across the convention center, but I thought, “no worries, he doesn’t start on time.” And guess what. He didn’t. I was late but still there well before he started.
I hate to be late. It’s been ingrained in me since I was a 9th grader in marching band – our director frequently would say “if you’re on time, you’re late!” I’ve found that to be good advice both in the business world and now in the local church. But not everyone shares that mindset.
I believe excellence begins with being on time, with beginning on time, and continues with delivering more than was expected. I remember years ago being on staff at a church where we started late. Every. Single. Week. It drove me nuts. When I asked about it, I was told “people aren’t here yet – we’ll start when the room’s more full.”
Hear me – when we do that, we empower people to be late. They will think, just like I did last week, “no worries – they don’t start on time anyway.” And we will enable their habitual lateness.
It begins with us, leaders. We set the tone – we set the pace. Excellence begins on time. I am far from perfect at this, but it’s always what I aim at. Let’s encourage a culture of excellence that begins on time. And see what happens when we do.
Have you ever had an experience like I did last week? What does lateness by a leader or organization communicate to you?