Patient Living

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Patience is not a natural virtue for modern men and women—not on the freeway, in line, or in the workplace. Why ever wait on others or delay our own plans?

Earlier this week, I drove behind a car that missed several opportunities to turn left. I could only think about how much time I lost that day: 30 seconds. When Paul made lists of Christian virtues, patience often was included as one of the primary gifts of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23, II Cor. 6:6–7, Col. 3:12). Because Abraham "patiently endured," he received the promise (Heb. 6:15).

Patience is related to time—an enormous issue for most of us. Impatience may reveal an inner restlessness, a belief that the next moment, the next appointment, is more important.

When we live by the clock, we have no time for each other. We pride ourselves on workplace multi-tasking—reading emails while we speak on the phone. As we scurry from one task to another, I wonder how seriously we listen—arguably the most important gift we ever give another person.

In the workplace, patience is in short supply, particularly in difficult relationships. We typically give up too quickly—either write off the people who annoy us or fire them. Paul often exhorted the churches he guided to work diligently on their conflict; for in the process, they would see the power of God in their lives (Rom. 5:3–6). Perfectionism condemns mistakes or failure, but patience understands and forgives. All relationships—husband and wife, parent and child, or professional colleagues—require patience.

When Paul wrote of love, he included patience (I Cor. 13:4). He wrote of love based on God's patience with us (Ex. 34:6, Num. 14:8, Rom. 15:5), and Christ's patience with sinners.

Does patience mean passive resignation? Not for Paul. He considered patience an active energy that merges into hope (Rom. 5:4). In an age that expects quick fixes to complex problems, we are frustrated by incremental or slow changes. Profound change, however, is ordinarily a step-by-step process that takes time. Our patience grows from the conviction that God is at work in our lives.

Patient living helps us be aware of "the fullness of time" (Gal. 4:4-5), the present moment. When we practice patience, we are more attentive to one another and live with the hope that God is faithful to make all things new.

Question for discussion:

• Where in your work do you struggle with your impatience?
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