It’s the thought and unspoken cry of all of your volunteers: “Don’t waste my time.” This is a lesson I learned at the age of 21 and have practiced for the last 14 years. Adults lead busy lives. They have families and hard jobs and show up at a rehearsal tired, frazzled and a little ready to walk out the door at the drop of a hat. It’s crucial that you as the leader understand the two P’s: Be PUNCTUAL and Be PREPARED.

First, be punctual. Punctual is defined as “strictly observant of an appointed or regular time; not late; prompt.” This issue is what really inspired this series of Church Leadership 1o1. This past Sunday night I was dropping my kids off at a children’s function at a church. My wife normally takes them on Sunday nights, so this was my first time taking them to this event. The function started at 5:30pm so I arrived at 5:15pm. The parking lot was empty. I thought this event must have been cancelled for this week. I guess the other families are so used to the leader showing up late that they arrive right at 5:30pm.

I sat in my car upset and frustrated that this leader was wasting my time, as I couldn’t just leave my kids with no one there to watch them. I had to wait for this leader to show up and unlock the church. You know what time she finally showed up? 5:38pm! I was furious. I started to gather my kids from the playground and say, “Let’s leave.” – as to teach the leader this very basic leadership principle: “Don’t waste my time.”

Hear me: If an event or activity starts at 5:30pm, the leader should arrive at least by 5:15pm. At the very least. Leaders should be the first to arrive and the last to leave. Every ministry and rehearsal I’ve ever led, I’ve been the first to arrive. This is Church Leadership 1o1. And worship leader friends – don’t play the “artist” card. Nobody wants to hear that you’re an artist and you’re never on time. Get a watch and be prompt and punctual. Moving on…

The second P is prepared. Never waste your team’s time at a meeting or rehearsal. If you’re leading a meeting, have a set agenda and stick to it. If you’re leading a rehearsal, have the worship sets, service orders and music charts all set, prepared and ready to go. When my band walked into rehearsal they could always go straight to their music stand and find their folder with the set list and all the charts 3 hole punched and placed in order in their folder. I even had the corners of pages turned up and ready to be flipped. I had special notes highlighted for each player and a big mark showing them when to come in and start playing.

It’s a matter of respect and understanding. You must realize that your volunteers lead busy lives and they will leave your ministry if you’re not punctual and prepared. These are two key factors that I teach when I speak on “How to Attract and Keep Quality Musicians.” You have to always keep in mind that time is the most precious thing any of us have. You can get more money. You can never get back time. When you waste time – it’s gone… forever.

How can you improve in this area of your ministry and leadership? Are you the first to arrive for a meeting or rehearsal? Do you have the mindset that early is on time and on time is late?

Greg Atkinson

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