- A fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.
- At the heart of God for his people.
- One of the practical secrets to love.
But patience isn’t always easy. I have found that it’s easy to lose patience with those closest to me and even with myself.
Losing patience with others around us is one of the biggest epidemics in our world. There seems to be little patience with other drivers, other social media users, or other opinions.
By definition, patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
Over the years, I have been complimented on a patient attitude when leading, teaching or directing. I’m grateful for those words of encouragement. In many ways, I seek to live up to that reputation based on that encouragement alone. However, I’ve had my fair share of losing patience as well.
If this small character trait is such a huge deal, how do we improve?
THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING PATIENCE
The process to developing more patience takes patience. It requires time and practical, hard work. Let’s take a look at actions that can help to grow patience in our lives:
Break Old Habits
We have triggers that send our lack of patience through the roof. We need to break those habits. When we reflect on our actions after the the fact, we may feel remorse for our responses toward others. Breaking the old patterns requires determining what they are and replacing them.
Let’s say you have no patience with someone who can’t do the job. If you can replace your lack of patience with a desire to help that person learn, considering how that will save you stress down the road, you’ll be in a better place. Easier said than done, but it’s one way to replace old patterns.
As we mature, our patience grows. We become wiser. We learn what can and can’t be expected from others. We begin to understand that much of our impatience comes from our lack of confidence and other things we see in ourselves.
To speed up the process of maturity, read scripture. The Bible has so much wisdom, including these examples:
- A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1).
- Hot tempers cause arguments, but patience brings peace (Proverbs 15:18).
- The end of something is better than its beginning. Patience is better than pride (Ecclesiastes. 7:8).
- Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; it is not arrogant (1 Corinthians 13:4).
Speed up your maturity by spending time reading and reflecting on what God says about patience toward yourself and others.
So much of what goes on around us can’t be changed. One of the best ways to grow your patience is to understand a few basic things: People are people; our world is fallen and broken; life isn’t fair; there will always be issues; and things aren’t perfect.
Once you accept these things, you’re in a much better place to have patience for others. You never know what someone is going through or how much someone else is dealing with.
Over the years, I have tried to think about the possible scenarios that might be taking place when someone is tailgating, rushing to the front of the line, or doing something else that annoys me. Are they rushing to the hospital because of news they just received? Did they just sign divorce papers? Did they just experience a major financial setback? These possible scenarios soften my heart, whether I ever know the truth or not. Someone may be dealing with a situation like that in any given moment.
Focus On The Problem, Not The Person
When my daughter was about four years old, she got a splinter in her finger when we were traveling. She was crying loudly, so I stopped the van to try removing it. We (ridiculously) sat in a hot van on a hot August day. She had long lost her patience with the tweezers and I was losing my patience with her squirming when she said, “Dad, I don’t like you at all – just stop!” I responded, “Fine, we will just cut your finger off!” It went downhill from there. Thankfully, my wife came out, calmed the situation, focused on the splinter, and removed it.
When we find ourselves easily losing patience, we can change by focusing on the problem instead of the person. Don’t lose patience with your child or anyone who is causing an issue. Instead, respond calmly and remain focused on the problem. This will allow you to build a bridge with whomever may be challenging your patience.
Take Baby Steps
You don’t have to decide today to be patient every day for the rest of your life. You just need to determine that you will be patient today. Stack one day on the next and your patience will grow.
Your patient heart, words, actions, and attitudes will open doors to a long-lasting, positive legacy.
Patience is a way to show love. Patience is a powerful tool for change. Patience will open your heart to a more fulfilled, loving, and fruitful life.