How many things by season seasoned are
To their right praise and true perfection!
(William Shakespeare)

WE PROBABLY UNDERESTIMATE THE EXTENT TO WHICH THINGS ARE EITHER HELPED OR HURT BY THEIR TIMING. The old adage “timing is everything” may be an exaggeration, but it’s certainly true that timing is critical. At exactly the right time, a certain thing may prove to be powerful, popular, or productive — while at any other time, the very same thing would fall noticeably flat. So what are some ways we could profit from pursuing timeliness? What does this quality mean when it’s applied to our character and conduct?

Timeliness means being prompt. Two identical thank-you notes, one written within twenty-four hours and the other written six weeks after the fact, will have two very different effects on the recipient. Why do we let procrastination drain the goodness out of so many of our well-intended actions? Promptness pays huge dividends.

Timeliness means being punctual. Two of your employees are very similar in most ways, but one is always at work on time while the other is chronically late. Which one are you going to think of as being more mature and responsible? Two of your friends are very much alike, but one frequently keeps you waiting past the agreed-upon time. Which one are you going to describe as being more courteous?

Timeliness means being predictable. It’s not enough to get the job done, and it’s not enough to deliver the product — the job needs to be done on schedule, and the product needs to be delivered on time. Those on whom our actions impinge need to know what to expect from us; they need to be able to depend on our timeliness. So predictability, as simple as it seems, is a great gift we can give to others.

In nothing, however, is timeliness more important than in our words. Whatever needs to be said, it usually takes some wisdom to know when to say it, and if we don’t exercise that wisdom, the encouraging benefit of our words may be lost on those to whom we speak. It’s one of life’s greatest challenges to learn timeliness in our speech, but when we do, once in a while, say precisely the right thing at exactly the right time, what a marvelous thing of beauty it is to enjoy.

“A word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (The Book of Proverbs).

Gary Henry — +

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