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Culture Killer // Tardiness (A Volunteer’s Perspective)


As a Worship Leader, I’ve come to realize that part of my job description should read, “Defender of Culture”. Because in all reality, creating and keeping a positive culture on our teams only happens with intention. It’s when we get a bit lazy that culture killers can sneak in and start to poke holes in the fabric of our God-centered, positive, encouraging, and honest culture.

Here’s a culture killer that we all have experienced, talked about, and experimented with solutions for over and over again.


Instead of yet another article on the importance of being on time or how to get your volunteers to care about punctuality, I thought I’d turn the tables a bit and see what my team thought about this topic. I posed three questions to them. Here are the results:

1. As a team member, how does it make you feel when the leader (worship leader or tech leader) is late on Sunday morning?

“I understand that unexpected things come up (especially for those with kids!) but being late negatively affects the entire team. Rehearsal might start late and therefore be rushed or cut short, meaning that the team might not be as prepared as they should be. This unpreparedness may restrict team members from being able to engage in worship. Ultimately, the leader’s tardiness could negatively impact the entire congregation.  Taking it another step further, habitual tardiness makes me lose confidence in their leadership. If they can’t manage their time, how can they possibly manage a team?”

“Last time I checked y’all were human, too. Things happen beyond our control and God challenges us occasionally. If it’s habitual, depends how late and the circumstance. Like blowing a tire-you can’t help it, why get miffed, my schedule isn’t that tight.”

“Its both a little frustrating and humbling. Frustrating because our rehearsal time is limited and I want the set to be good. Humbling because i often forget everyone is human and sometimes we’re late to places we need to be because life is happening to all of us. As long as it’s not an every day thing I think once in a blue moon it’s okay.”

2. Have you ever been late to rehearsal or a service? If so, did it seem like anyone cared?

“Yes I have. Yes people cared because its not just my time being given. Everyone is giving their time and they make an effort to get there early and they’re ready and if you can’t get started with rehearsal because you have to wait on someone it can be frustrating.”

“I believe I have been close to late or just on time.  I don’t recall being over a minute or two late.  But if I were, I believe it would matter and the rest if the team would care.  We all have other responsibilities and time constraints.”

“I was late to my very first Sunday morning rehearsal thanks to a set of lost keys! The team was very gracious and seemed to hold no hard feelings.”

3. What’s your opinion on tardiness and its effects (or lack thereof) on a team made up of volunteers?

“If a person is late once or twice, I think we all recognize that life happens.  We cannot prepare for every single thing that pops up to keep us from being on time.  However, for a person that is habitually late, it’s a different story.  In my mind, that person is a bit selfish, in that they may believe that their time is more important than the time of anyone else.  Luckily we do not have anyone who is habitually late.”

“Tardiness in volunteers is a killer because you are counting on them.”

“A volunteer is someone who is donating their precious time to a cause that they believe in. Wasting their time by being tardy is disrespectful and tells them that their donation is not valued.”

“My opinion, there’s certain exceptions for tardiness. Like death, illness or an accident. Also you should notify whoever needs to be notified. I don’t think just deciding to not show up is acceptable. When a person is tardy it can cause set backs and make certain things a little more difficult but I’ve never experienced a situation like this where we couldn’t manage and make it work. It just takes extra effort from everyone and sometimes that pushes us to learn how to be better. Learning to improvise isn’t always bad.”

“I dislike tardiness. Its one of my biggest pet peeves. Im usually early. I believe it interrupts the flow of the team, causes frustration and sometimes major conflicts if not addressed by the team leader. If the tardy individual is just allowed to continue the the other team members may feel like they are less important or that person is a ‘favorite’   Tardiness has a negative effect in all aspects. If you’ve committed to being somewhere at a specific time there’s only two choices.  Suit up and show up or call with plenty of time to cancel.  I know this is sort of a hard nosed view but its what I believe. (How would we feel if God decided to be late….)”

Personally, punctuality is hard for me. I’m late to most things in my life. But I’m not late to rehearsal and I’m not late to a church service. Why? I expect A LOT out of these volunteers on my team. They know my standards and expectations are high, so I refuse to be a leader who can’t meet up to those standards or follow through on those expectations.

Communicate with your team. Talk about the hard issues and culture killers. Get their feedback and be clear where you stand. Lastly, I think we can all take Becky’s advice, “Suit up and show up or call with plenty of time to cancel.”


Check out Laura’s other posts in the Culture Killer series: Gossip and Poor Communication.

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