Stewardship of Time

Seth Godin wrote recently in his blog:

Here’s the #1 most overlooked secret of marketing, of growing your organization, of building trust and creating for the long haul. Actually, it has two parts:

Show up on time. It doesn’t cost anything to keep your promises when it comes to time. Show up for the meeting when the meeting starts. Have the dry cleaning ready when you promise. Ship on time. Return that phone call. Finish the renovation ahead of schedule.

Boy that’s simple. Apparently, it’s incredibly difficult.

If you want to build trust, you need to be trustworthy. The simplest test of trustworthiness for most people is whether or not you keep your promises, and the first promises you make are about time.

Cherish my time. The second part is closely related. It has to do with respect. You respect my time when you don’t waste it. When you don’t spam me. When you worry about the 100 cars backed up on the road and figure out how to get us moving more quickly. You respect me when you value my time more highly than your own.

If you want someone to think you’re selfish, just ask for a minute of their time and then waste it or use it for your own ends. Or automate the process so three minutes of your time wastes three minutes of the 1,000 or one million people on your list.

In a society where so many people have enough, few people have time to spare. When you waste it (by breaking a promise and being late) or abuse it (by viewing your time as worth more than mine), we respond by distrusting you, ignoring you and eventually moving on.

While Seth is talking about business, I believe there is a lot of truth in what he says for the church. If we want people to be stewards in all aspects of their lives that includes time. And as leaders we need to respect not only our time but the time of others.

Start the worship service on time. Start meetings on time even if everyone isn’t there. Don’t ask people to spend their time doing something and then not use what they’ve done. Don’t waste your time or other people’s time.

When we show up on time and cherish the time of others, we model stewardship. Time is the one resource that puts everyone on the same level – we all get the same amount. But how we use it, well that’s a different story.