Ok, Let’s be honest. There is a hole in our sanctification (and most likely more than one). It is called impatience. It eats and gnaws at our spirit, leads us to store up instead of speak up, moves us to think from a worldly perspective instead of a heavenly one, and causes us to react instead of respond. It harms our walk with Christ and our relationships with others. It calls us to make rash and un-prayed-through decisions that end up being more about our will than God’s. It leads us into a lifestyle of cleaning up our own messes, over, and over, and over.
So, what triggers our impatience? Let me share a few of my triggers. People who promise things and then don’t follow through (a personality/leadership thing). Wal-Mart on a Saturday (or really on any day). People paying by check at the grocery store (really???). People who feel they can dominate your time without permission (you know who I am talking about). My most recent catalyst for impatience deals with roundabouts, or traffic circles. A few years ago, to assuage traffic accidents and curtail speed on one of our local highways, the county I live in decided that roundabouts, or traffic circles, were the answer. I am sure that much statistical work and city planning went into making this decision. And so over the past few years, several roundabouts were constructed in our county. In fact, two were constructed between my office and my home less than 100 yards apart from each other. It has proven to make drives to and from work interesting to say the least.
Let me make this abundantly clear, I am not anti-roundabout. What I am anti about is the lack of education and application of drivers in relation to roundabouts. There are usually two types of offenders. One is the person who ignores the yield sign in the roundabout and treats it like a NASCAR challenge, barreling through the circle with abandon. This type of person triggers my impatience and prompts me to have a loud conversation in my car with them that is one-sided, given that they have already driven off. This usually leads me to a time of repentance before God for words spoken.
The second type is the overly cautious and kind person who desires to let everyone go before they do. Now, I live in the American south, where southern hospitality reigns. For those of you who don’t understand “southern hospitality, it is ‘the stereotype of residents of the Southern United States as showing kindness, warmth, and welcoming of visitors to their homes.’” I genuinely live among a people who demonstrate politeness, kindness, helpfulness, charm, charity, and great home cooking! That said, sometimes folks show southern hospitality to a fault, like while driving in roundabouts. I have literally had someone stop in the middle of a roundabout to let me go before them while I am yielding to their right of way. I also have a conversation with this person in my car, but this time they can see my reaction (since they have stopped to let me in). So, I need to be careful with my facial expressions and hand gestures, and so communicate a loving and servant’s heart (which doesn’t happen often in these circumstances). Again, repentance ensues.
What triggers your impatience? We all have our fuses, short or long, depending on the state of our heart and soul, the activities of a given day, our personality types, or our past experiences. Regardless, as disciples of Jesus, we are called to a lifestyle that exhibits patience. As such, what are some things we must remember regarding patience, or long-suffering, in our lives? I would like to contend that the practice of patience is more of an art than a science. It takes practice, trust, forbearance, and obedience that must be willingly applied, by the power of the Holy Spirit, over and over as we grow into the likeness of Christ. So, what principles do we need to know to practice the art of patience?
1. Realize God’s infinite patience with you.
When we grow impatient, we may have forgotten God’s infinite patience with us. If anyone deserves to be impatient and act on that impatience, it is God. But because He is who He is, He serves as the perfect example of patience. In fact, Peter reminds us of this when he says, “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis mine). God desires us to be conformed into the image of His Son more than we ever could (Romans 8:29). Therefore, He demonstrates His unlimited reserve of patience in drawing us to Himself and helping us become who He has created us to be. We see this lived out in His constant welcoming arms of forgiveness and love (cue John 15:11ff). John even reminds us that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
2. Realize Jesus’ call to patience for His disciples.
In light of God’s patience, we are to live out the virtue of patience toward others. In the New Testament, the virtue of patience is called a “fruit of the Spirit”, or the evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Galatians 3:23). As such, we are to pursue growth, by the power of the Spirit, to become more patient with ourselves, with God, and with others. In fact, Paul addresses this in Romans 2:4. Speaking to those who would judge others, yet live the same way, Paul says, “Or do you despise the riches of his kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”. In other words, the apex of hypocrisy, or play-acting, is to blame, shame, or judge others while we are acting likewise in other situations.
Jesus also speaks to this in Matthew 7:3, when He asks, “Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye?”. In fact, throughout the New Testament, believers are commanded to be patient. In Colossians 3:12-13, Paul says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive”. In Romans 12:12, we are called to “Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer”. In Ephesians 4:1-3, Paul entreats us, “Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”. The bottom line, we are to practice the art of patience.
3. Understand how you are wired.
This is a great, practical principle if we are to relate to God and others appropriately. I have taken many personality profiles throughout the years, and most of them have helped me to understand how God has wired me to serve Him in the world. Whether you are a Myers-Briggs, DISC, Enneagram, or some other assessment fan, I would encourage you to choose an assessment and see what God might reveal through it.
4. Be intentional with patience.
This is not an encouragement toward pugilism, but a call to intentionally put yourself in a position to practice patience. Is there a person or situation that causes constant impatience? The next time you know you are going to be around that person or situation, prepare yourself to be intentionally patient. Most of our times of impatience come unexpectedly, but sometimes can be orchestrated.
Another major aspect of being intentional with patience is prayer. If this is a hole in your sanctification, make it a major part of your prayer life. Ask God daily to create in you “a clean heart…and renew a steadfast spirit” within you (Psalm 51:10), so that you might demonstrate the fruit of patience in all you do. Be careful, though! If you pray for patience, be ready for God to put you in a place to practice it.
When we put these principles into our daily routine, we will be better equipped to do what Jesus has called us to do, love God and love others (Matthew 22:37). Remember, “Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).
This post originally appeared at: Learning the Art of Patience — The Bonhoeffer Project
 “Southern Hospitality”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_hospitality, accessed on April 7, 2022.
 Let me say a few things about personality, or even spiritual gift, assessments. 1. Assessments are man-made devices and are fallible. That said, most are good tools to give us an indication of who we are and how God has wired and gifted us. 2. Assessments should not produce excuses for certain behaviors but should reveal the way we relate, respond, and react, so that we may grow toward the higher standard of Christ’s character. 3. Assessments should be taken every couple of years to help you see how God might be working in you and molding you for His specific purposes. My favorite tool, which what an assessment is, is called PLACE. It combines Personality blends, Learning spiritual gifts, Abilities awareness, Connecting passion to ministry, and Experiences of life to help you find your place in ministry. You can find out more information about PLACE at https://placeministries.org/.