As we approach the end of a year, we face approaching deadlines, often coming more quickly than we had hoped. Many of our goals in our Annual Ministry Plan Season are due at the end of this year. Back in January, we identified some projects we wanted to complete in 2022, and now we just have a few more weeks to do so. I already know that my team and I will not complete some of these goals this year. Hopefully next year, we can finish them.
We also face deadlines in more personal areas. Christmas is just two weeks away, and we still have gifts to purchase and wrap before then. The deadline set by Canada Post for sending Christmas cards within Canada is December 16. To send cards to the USA, our deadline is even earlier – December 12. For sending to most of the rest of the world, the deadline has already passed.
Why do we call it a “deadline”?
The word “deadline” is a strange and sobering word, is it not? Our deadlines may have consequences for failing to meet them. But thankfully, none of my deadlines have ever threatened me with execution! Apparently the word “deadline” comes from the American Civil War. A Confederate prison in Georgia was notorious for shooting POWs who crossed a line within or around the prison. So this “deadline” was a literal line with deadly consequences for those who dared cross it. Since the Civil War, the figurative meaning of the word has totally overshadowed the original meaning. But the word still implies how important it is to stay within the set time limits, although most of us do not think about deadlines in this way.
Missionaries and deadlines
Maybe I am wrong but I think that we as missionaries are less concerned about deadlines than most people. Those of us who have lived and worked in cultures without a strong time-orientation have seen ample proof that the world works quite well even if events do not start on time.