My current ministry often requires me to attend meetings with various church boards and committees to provide whatever assistance they might need to accomplish their tasks. Some of these meetings will require me to drive up to three hours one way. It is not uncommon for these meetings to be held up while we wait for one or two people who are running late. No one considers that I have another three hour drive to return home or that I might have another meeting scheduled for later. Those who are late don't even consider that their fellow board members might have other plans or have families waiting for a meal when they return home. They usually walk into the room mumbling about being behind. No, they are not running behind; they are rude and inconsiderate of other people.
I typically arrive at events too early because I hate being late to anything. I keep a book in my car to read if I've arrived before the others which is often the case. I feel if I am late that I am insulting those who arrived on time and have insinuated that my time is much more valuable than theirs. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way, and too often others on the board or committee are willing to delay the meeting until these people finally arrive. There have been times when I've suggested we go ahead and start the meeting without the late comers. Sometimes, people agree but other times my suggestion is not well received.
This is not really a rant because this hasn't happened to me lately. It is an observation of a trend that I've noticed that some people simply have no respect for other people's time. Our society is becoming more rude and inconsiderate of others, and this is just one symptom of the problem.
Are there ever justifiable reasons for a person to be late? Of course. Emergencies happen that cannot be predicted. Unusual situations occur that no amount of planning can predict. I was once late getting to a meeting at a nearby church because there were two combines on the country road ahead of me that I had to follow almost all the way to the church. There was no place to pass them, and they refused to pull off when they had opportunities to do so. Although I left early enough to arrive on time, there was no way I would know I would have to follow two combines to the church.
What I've noticed, however, is that it is usually the same people who are always late. Their problem is not due to emergencies or the occasional unusual circumstance. They are simply rude and inconsiderate people. The only way to get their attention is to never delay a meeting because they are late. We should never reward improper behavior. If they are late they should understand the meeting will begin without them. If they continue to be late to future meetings they should be asked about their commitment to the group. Let's not punish responsible people who make the effort to be on-time by rewarding those who are always late.