Why Be Punctual?
BEING punctual, or on time, is not always easy. Among the challenges that we may have to overcome are long travel distances, heavy traffic, and busy schedules. Yet, being on time is important. In the workplace, for example, a punctual person is generally considered reliable and diligent. On the other hand, an individual who arrives late can affect the work of others and the quality of products and services. Tardiness can cause a student to miss certain classes and hinder his scholastic progress. Being late for a medical or dental appointment may affect the treatment one receives.
In some places, though, punctuality is not considered that important. In such an environment, being late can easily become our habit. If that is so, it is vital that we cultivate a desire to be on time. Appreciating the importance of punctuality will certainly help us to be punctual. What are some reasons for being punctual? How can we meet the challenge of punctuality? And what benefits can we expect to reap from being on time?
Jehovah—A Punctual God
The foremost reason we want to be punctual is that we want to imitate the God we worship. (Eph. 5:1) Jehovah provides an excellent example of punctuality. He is never late. He adheres strictly to his schedule in the fulfillment of his purposes. For example, when Jehovah decided to destroy the ungodly world in a deluge, he said to Noah: “Make for yourself an ark out of wood of a resinous tree.” As the time for the end drew near, Jehovah told Noah to enter into the ark and informed him: “In just seven days more I am making it rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will wipe every existing thing that I have made off the surface of the ground.” Then right on time, “seven days later it turned out that the waters of the deluge came upon the earth.” (Gen. 6:14; 7:4, 10) Imagine what might have happened to Noah and his family had they not been inside the ark on time. Like the God they worshipped, they had to be punctual.
Some 450 years after the Flood, Jehovah told the patriarch Abraham that he would have a son through whom the promised Seed would come. (Gen. 17:15-17) God said that Isaac would be born “at this appointed time next year.” Did that happen? The Scriptures tell us: “Sarah became pregnant and then bore a son to Abraham in his old age at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.”—Gen. 17:21; 21:2.
The Bible abounds with examples showing God’s punctuality. (Jer. 25:11-13; Dan. 4:20-25; 9:25) The Bible tells us to keep in expectation of Jehovah’s future day of judgment. Even if it seems to “delay” from a human viewpoint, we are assured that “it will not be late.”—Hab. 2:3.
Punctuality Important in Worship
All Israelite men had to be present and on time at the place designated for “the seasonal festivals of Jehovah.” (Lev. 23:2, 4) God also determined the times at which certain sacrifices were to be offered. (Ex. 29:38, 39; Lev. 23:37, 38) Does this not indicate that God wants his servants to be punctual in their worship?
In the first century when the apostle Paul instructed the Corinthians about how Christian meetings should be conducted, he urged them: “Let all things take place decently and by arrangement.” (1 Cor. 14:40) Accordingly, Christian gatherings for worship were to begin at an appointed time. Jehovah’s view of punctuality has not changed. (Mal. 3:6) What measures, then, can we take to be punctual at these Christian gatherings?
Facing the Challenge of Punctuality
Some have found that advance planning is a great help. (Prov. 21:5) For instance, if we have to travel a certain distance to arrive at a designated time, would it be wise to start off at a time that would permit us just barely to make it? Would it not be prudent to allow a few extra minutes so that we will not be late, even if an “unforeseen occurrence” takes place on the way? (Eccl. 9:11) “Something that can help anyone to arrive on time is to have a good idea of how much travel time is needed,” says a punctual young man named José.a
For some, it may be necessary to make arrangements to leave their workplace early enough to allow them to arrive for Christian meetings in good time. This is what one Witness in Ethiopia did when he realized that he would be 45 minutes late for congregation meetings because of shift changes. He arranged for a fellow worker to come to work early to relieve him on meeting nights. In return, the Witness agreed to work an extra seven-hour shift for his workmate.
If we have young children, arriving on time at meetings presents a special challenge. The responsibility of getting the children ready generally falls on the mother, but other members of the family can and should help. A Mexican mother named Esperanza has cared for eight children alone. Their ages now range from 5 to 23. Esperanza explains how her family manages to be punctual: “My older daughters help get the younger ones ready. This allows me to finish my housework and get myself ready to leave for the meetings at a set time.” This family has a set time to leave the house, and everyone cooperates in order to do so.
Benefiting From Being Punctual in Your Worship
Reflecting on the blessings we receive from arriving at Christian meetings on time can strengthen our desire and resolve to do everything possible to be punctual. A young woman named Sandra, who has cultivated the habit of getting to the meetings in good time, comments: “What I like about arriving early is that I have a chance to greet the brothers and sisters, talk with them, and get to know them better.” When we arrive at the Kingdom Hall early, we can benefit from hearing about the endurance and faithful service of others in attendance. By our presence and upbuilding conversation, we can also have a good effect on our brothers and sisters, ‘inciting them to love and fine works.’—Heb. 10:24, 25.
The song and prayer that open each Christian meeting are an essential part of our worship. (Ps. 149:1) Our songs praise Jehovah, remind us of qualities that we should cultivate, and encourage us to participate joyfully in the ministry. And what about the opening prayer? In ancient times, Jehovah called the temple his “house of prayer.” (Isa. 56:7) Today, we gather to offer prayers to God at our meetings. The opening prayer not only requests Jehovah’s guidance and holy spirit but also prepares our minds and hearts to receive the information that will be considered. We should be determined to arrive at our meetings on time for the opening song and prayer.
When speaking about her reason for arriving early at the meetings, 23-year-old Helen says: “I think that it is a way to show my love for Jehovah, since he provides all the information that is presented, including the songs and opening prayer.” Should we not view the matter the same way? Yes, we should. Therefore, let us strive to cultivate the habit of punctuality in all our activities, especially in those having to do with our worship of the true God.
a Names have been changed.
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Prepare well in advance
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Allow time for “unforeseen occurrence”
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Reap the benefits of arriving early at meetings