Have you used this cliché? We all recognize it. Most of us have probably used it. But not all clichés are good, true, and accurate. So, what about this one? Is this a true statement?
Like many things in life, the answer depends on the situation and context.
If a situation is very time-sensitive, then it is unlikely that “better late than never” is true, let alone helpful. You keep meaning to put gas in the tank… and break down on the side of the highway. You just need to do one more thing before making that business call… and then you miss the big account that was going to be your Christmas bonus money.
Of course, sometimes it is true to say, “better late than never.” You may delay a fun vacation, but you’ll still enjoy it when you do. You may want to change jobs, but put off the work to update your resume or fill out the applications, and when you finally get around to it, there will still be a job application out there for you to complete.
The tricky thing is, even if it’s technically true that an event is “better late than never,” there is still a missed opportunity cost of the delay. Your stress may build too high before your eventual vacation, and it takes you all week to unwind. You may miss a great job opportunity because you weren’t ready for it.
This morning, I sat down to write an email to the counselors and volunteers who support iHope. The thing is, this email has been on my to-do list for two months (and ideally, I want to send one every two weeks!). Is today’s email “better late than never”? Yes. It is. But there is a missed opportunity which I regret. It is an email of encouragement, updates, and prayers for this ministry. Which means that there are two months’ worth of missed opportunity for prayer and encouragement to people who I value dearly.
Is it the end of the world? No.
Is it a sin? No.
Is it a regret? Yes.
It may be true that some things are “better late than never” but if they are best right now, if they are doing good for others or honoring to God, then I encourage you to aim for the best. Don’t give yourself an easy out with the old cliché, “It’s better late than never.”