Some people seem more naturally patient than others. I’m not one of those people. But that’s not for lack of trying. Unfortunately, my “trying to be patient” never helped me maintain any consistent level of patience.
In Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore tells Harry…
“It’s not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.”
Fortunately, this holds true for patience. We can make choices that serve to cultivate consistent patience. We can…
- Let the Holy Spirit cultivate patience in us. We do this by becoming increasingly aware of and following His convicting, guiding and encouraging us as well as His focusing, enabling and teaching us. (John 14:16-17)
- Make basic physical needs a priority. If I’m tired, hungry or overwhelmed, I have almost no shot at maintaining any level of patience for very long, if at all. (Genesis 25:29-34)
- Stop avoiding the difficult stuff. We cultivate patience by practicing it. If we avoid difficult situations and people, we simply won’t see significant growth with patience. (Romans 5:3)
- Look for examples to emulate. Spending time with patient people helps us see how patience is lived out. Twenty-seven years married to one of the most insanely-patient people I’ve ever met has drawn me toward patient habits.
- Live in forgiveness. Simply put, the quicker I forgive myself and others, the more patience I have with myself and others. (Colossians 3:12-13)
- Learn to control what you say. Talking about frustrations, especially when I’m emotional, decreases patience. The sooner I move on from the discussion, the quicker I get back around to patience. (Proverbs 25:15 & Proverbs 21:32)
- Stay aware of patience levels. Everyone has limits with regard to patience. We must stay aware of when patience is running thin and learn to walk away before it runs out much like Joseph did when Potipher’s wife continued pursuing him. (Genesis 39)
- Know what you can and can’t control. No matter how much I try, I cannot control other people. I struggle enough controlling myself. So, I’m learning to control what I can and to not let the rest eat at me so much. Knowing what I can and can’t control takes the stress off my patience muscle in a huge way.
- Wait for God’s timing. Now we come to the matter of faith touched on in Patience is a Virtue. Trusting in God’s timing, or “waiting” on Him, increases our faith as we learn that He handles a great deal of our lives if we simply let Him and refuse to get ahead of His will. (Psalm 5:3, Psalm 25:5, Psalm 27:14, Psalm 62:5 & Proverbs 20:22)
Knowing I can partner with God and His Spirit to cultivate patience encourages me in tremendous ways because I realize that I don’t have to try and create and maintain patience in my own effort. Partnering in this way not only multiplies the tools available for cultivating patience, but it also helps me understand why patience is so important.
Why is patience important?
Personally, understanding “why” goes a long way in fueling my patience. But more important than asking why patience should be important to me, I want to know why it’s important to God. Here’s what He says…
- Patience proves — shows evidence of — Godly character. (Romans 5:3)
- Patience shows our love for others. (1 Corinthians 13:1)
- Patience is part of our Christian clothing. (Colossians 3:12)
- Patience shows us worthy of the calling of Christ. (Ephesians 4:1-2)
- Patience illustrates our choice to follow flesh or spirit. (Romans 8:12-17)
We have to remember that we simply cannot consistently practice patience — or any of the other fruit of the Spirit — in our own efforts. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit partners with us to accomplish patience in and through us. And when we LET Him do this work in us, our Godly character becomes a testimony of patience to others.
DISCUSSION: How have you become more consistently patient over the years?