“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.” (1 Thes. 5:14)
Whether waiting in stalled traffic, a long checkout line at the supermarket, through endless television commercials, or sitting for the longest red light in the county, waiting can be a struggle! Patience can be at a low ebb. Each of the above scenarios calls for a long fuse, self-control, and a spirit of doing the right thing in all circumstances.
Patiently controlling our emotions and actions is a necessary move for a Christ follower, especially someone in leadership.
Webster defines patience as “the suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness.” It can also be defined as “constancy in labor or exertion” and “the quality of bearing offenses and injuries without anger or revenge.”
“Patiently controlling our emotions and actions is a necessary move for a Christ follower, especially someone in leadership.”
We are called by Scripture to exhibit patience as living out a segment of the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). The word used in Galatians 5:22 for patience is the Greek word makrothumia. This word comes from two Greek words: makros meaning “long” and thumos meaning “temper,” thus the idea of having a “long temper.” William Barclay explains the history of the word in this way:
“Makrothumia expresses a certain attitude both to people and to events. It expresses the attitude to people which never lose patience with them, however unreasonable they may be, and which never loses hope for them, however unlovely and unteachable they may be. It expresses the attitude to events which never admits defeat, and which never loses its hope and its faith, however dark the situation may be, and incomprehensible events may be, and however sore the chastening of God may be.”
Paul writes to encourage us to develop patience with both people and events.
“Paul writes to encourage us to develop patience with both people and events.”
- Ephesians 4:2
- Colossians 3:12
- 2 Corinthians 6:6
- 1 Corinthians 13:4
- 1 Thessalonians 5:14
- 2 Corinthians 6:6
- Colossians 1:11
- Hebrews 12:1
After years of marriage, ministry, and just living life, I have become aware of several key things that have been personally helpful in cultivating patience in the “daily trenches” of life. I hope these will be helpful to you.
1. I need to remind myself that patience is seriously expected of me by Scripture.
(For more on this, see above.)
It isn’t just that developing a spirit of patience is a good idea. It is expected of me and commanded in Scripture as a characteristic of my growing in Christ and especially my growth as a leader. It is an aspect of the life of every believer, man and woman both, to be developed and cultivated as their journey in Christ continues.
2. I need to know myself well.
At this stage of my life, I have learned that there are certain circumstances that drain my patience and self-control. They can make me more vulnerable to a lack of patience. I mentally and spiritually prepare beforehand, being aware of myself and knowing how I respond during each of the following situations:
- When I am extremely fatigued (after a long, draining day of work, late at night when my energy level is low, or having gone without sleep)
- When I am under extended stress
- When I am anxious and struggling through an important matter
- When I am extremely hungry (being “hangry” is a real issue!)
- When I experience extreme physical illness
How about you? Which of the above apply to your situation? What others can you add?
Each of these (and probably others) are situations in which I attempt to be very aware of my lack of patience and doubly on guard.
“I mentally and spiritually prepare beforehand, being aware of myself and knowing how I respond.”
3. I understand that patience must be daily cultivated as the Holy Spirit continues to work in my life.
The good news is that we can get better and stronger at exhibiting a patient spirit, even in the most stressful situations. Developing patience takes self-control. I know that I need to cultivate this aspect of my character and will, in a focused way, make a serious effort to control any “out of control” behavior which might damage others, brought on by my lack of patience (anger, shouting, etc.). Recently from the internet: “A moment of patience in a moment of anger saves you a hundred moments of regret.”
We must admit that out of the many characteristics required of a Christian leader, patience has to be one of the most important to develop and one of the hardest to cultivate. Brothers and sisters, let’s remember our calling and example, even in the most trying of times and situations. Let’s depend on the Holy Spirit and his exhortation while we are on our daily journeys.
From e2elders.org. Used with permission.