Timeliness is Love

The following is a guest post from our friend Josh Carter.  If interested in submitting a guest post, please read our guest posting policy and then contact us.

Last week I got into a heavy discussion with someone I mentor that got me thinking. I would say in today’s culture, and especially here where I live in Southern California, that timeliness is a virtue that has been completely forgotten by the vast majority of people. In fact, most people don’t look at timeliness as a virtue, but more as a guide. Its the same way we look at Speed Limits. They are guides, but not something that would hold us back from doing life the way we wish to do it. Even though we all know deep down that timeliness, like speed limits, is there for a good reason and we should respect that.

For example, when you get an invitation for something (party, event, wedding, meeting, etc.) that starts at 6pm, what are the chances of you showing up at or before 6pm? Probably not very high. At our wedding, we had guests who were so late that they nearly walked my wife down the aisle. At church, we always have a few people who walk in 40 minutes into the service when the pastor is about to start his message. Point is, most of us don’t view timeliness as something to be respected and pursued. But here’s the truth: timeliness is love.

Think about the times when you’ve planned something for a certain time, but people show up late. Whether it was a meeting or an event, I’m sure whomever you invited showed up and said, “Oh I’m so sorry I’m late,” to which you probably responded, “Oh it’s no big deal.” But deep down what you really wanted to say was, “Hey if you were really sorry, then you wouldn’t have been late. Thanks for wasting my time ‘friend’.” And that is the truth of the situation.

Now sure, there are times when we just can’t help but be late, I get that. Like this morning when I left early to get to work, but ended up sitting on the freeway off-ramp for about 20 minutes. Or if something happens with your kids or wife, sure, I get that. But being late for something when there is no legitimate reason other than you left late because you lost track of time or because you just don’t really care about being on time, well that’s just rude and disrespectful.

In fact, I would say being late is one of the most disrespectful things a person can do. It shows no care or concern for the other person/people involved. It tells them that they are not important to you, that their time is OK being wasted, and that the world revolves around you and your schedule. Now none of us would actually say that to someone, yet that’s what our tardiness communicates. And as men, I would hope that we would be respectful to people when it comes to their time. Being on time to something tells that person you care about them. And I believe loving others is one of the manliest things we can do.

One last story to illustrate this point. When my friend, Shawn Kennedy, was in school, he approached an executive coach to mentor him in the art of listening well. The coach told him, “If you are ever a minute late, just turn around and go home. And don’t bother showing up again.” The first lesson in listening well is to show respect for whomever you’re engaged with. And the first way to show respect is by being on time.

Here are some social cues for those who are perpetually late:
  1. Set your watch and/or car clock 8 minutes forward. That way you always arrive early or at least on time. Warning: this may lead to excessive speeding, so be careful.
  2. Leave 30 minutes prior to your meeting time. You never know if there will be traffic or construction or zombies or whatever else that would hinder you from getting to your destination on time. So leave early and arrive early.
  3. Keep a book in your car. Once you arrive early, you’ll wonder what to do with your time. Having a book in your car is a great way to pass the time while you wait for your meeting to arrive. And if it’s a book on how to kill thieves, it might help deter break-ins.
  4. If a meteor strikes your car and the bus you’re on gets hi-jacked by Dennis Hopper (RIP), and you realize that you’re going to be late for your meeting, then please call or text the person you’re supposed to meet with to let them know. While it doesn’t excuse the tardiness, it at least lets the person know they can go walk around for a little bit or read a book until you arrive 5 or 10 minutes late.


  1. Timeliness has always been important to me. I try to live my life by the rule “If you’re five minutes early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are 5 minutes late.”

    My aunt on the other hand… we give her a meet time an hour early just so she will be there within 15 minutes of when we actually plan on meeting.

    • Someone taught me that same principle when I was 19.

      When people are habitually late, I do feel like they don’t care enough. Family we do have to make some allowances for though 🙂

  2. So glad to see this article. I’ve always found that when someone is late, it simply says that they value their own time, or someone else’s, more than yours.

  3. I totally agree. Punctuality is tied directly to your respect for the other person and their time. No ifs, ands or buts. There’s no need to be perfect (who is?) but the rubber meets the road at the 90% level: are you on time 90% of the time?

    Someone pointed that out to me this way: let’s say you have a meeting with the President, or someone seriously important/famous that you admire. Would you show up to that meeting 30 minutes late, muttering the usual, “Sorry I’m late?” Didn’t think so.

    If you won’t be late for that meeting, but you’re prepared to be late for any other, that tells you where your heart is: you disrespect the person for whom you’re late. When I heard that I said, “Ouch!” And punctuality has been important to me ever since.

    • That’s a good analog. Don’t you hate being late? It’s embarrassing. It’s a statement about our character, or that we didn’t value other’s time. I try to be as gracious as possible if I am going to be late and give people a heads up. Gotta “man up” to our mistakes :).

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