What are deadlines?

A man went for a run, crossed a line, and died. This actually happens.

When a prisoner crosses a certain line drawn around the holding facility, he is liable to be shot. But of course that is not our default understanding of a deadline.

Currently we see a deadline as the latest time that a project or task must be completed. Kind of like filing your taxes. Or maybe going to the bathroom. A deadline can be imposed on us or it can be created by us. The problem with deadlines as we know them, is that they aren’t really what they try to be.

When it comes to survival, there is a moment in time when you’re dead: you don’t make a shelter by nightfall, you get eaten by wolves. That’s a deadline. When viewed as a life or death situation, a project seems to get done even if it isn’t perfect the first time through. And a draft is better than a plan for a perfect shelter. Paramedics and doctors often time work on deadlines. But most of us don’t work on a life or death basis. We have relaxed, and perhaps a bit to much.

Our dependability on “the system” has been exponentially increasing. Yet the stability of “the system” has been slowly loosing it’s foundation. We’ve become a more safer place to live, so therefore I can put down my sword and shovel. The king is protecting me, I have no need to build, fight, and grow. Until that king turns on you, but then it’s to late. You’ve given up your rights, because you’ve given up your responsibilities.

What I really want to discuss is taking responsibility. As men, God calls us to a life of mature, glad, sacrificial, assumption of responsibility.

We have one King. This King requires us to take what he’s given and bless people with it. This means working hard, sacrificing the right relationships, and being generous. A different king wants us to not be expendable, sacrifice the wrong relationships, and be greedy. Both The King and the king call us and want us to depend on him, both also call us to bow down to him, yet there is freedom in only one of the two.

Frankly, our government doesn’t seem to want us to take any responsibilities. They want us to depend on them. They know that those who do take responsibility, are free men and have authority and a claim to their rights and their options as free men. Those who simply live off of the system, don’t have options. As an employer, we see how the government slowly, but surely, is creeping into controlling the lives of people.

Think about this for a moment.

Scenario 1: Government Mandated Insurance

You work as a laborer and demand that your employer keeps you safe. If you get injured, you simply collect workers comp. You get injured. You go to the doctor and he, knowing it was on-the-job, issues you a note that you can’t work. So you stay home, collecting workers comp, eventually going on light duty. You milk the system as long as possible.

Scenario 2: No Government Mandated Insurance

You work as a laborer and have a family. You take extra precautions for safety because your wife and kids depend on you. You assume responsibility for your work and even look out for others who are doing dumb things. You get injured, and do your best to get back on your feet as soon as possible. In the mean time, you have another flow of income that can supplement injury as well as some savings that will get you through the winter.

We will get more of what we subsidize.

What does this have to do with deadlines? Our deadlines don’t have “dead” consequences. In fact they’re not really deadlines, but rather money lines. If we choose to file our taxes late, all we do is pay a penalty. The payment of a penalty is an option. Sometimes we assume that we’ve broken the law if we didn’t file our taxes on time, or if we choose not to have health insurance. But unless we don’t pay the penalty, we haven’t broken the law. The options are: File by April 15th or pay a late fee. Return your Redbox DVD or pay for an extra day.

Monetary deadlines are easier to deal with, but seem more stressful because they are short term. Long-term deadlines are harder to see and deal with, but have a greater impact or consequence if we meet them or not.

Set deadlines that you can and plan on accomplishing. Take your deadlines seriously and be responsible for what you promise. Let your “yes be yes” and your “no be no”. Become a man of your word, you will be a more purified image bearer as God is The Word and is The Promise Keeper.

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