Hurry is a primary problem among Christian leaders and continues to grow. The fruit of the Spirit most related to unhurry is patience. Here are a few thoughts about patience in life and ministry.
When I think about how I’ve sometimes “done” church, I ask myself which would be better: ten one-year ministry cycles, each with various priorities and emphases (the latest “big thing,” for example), or one ten-year ministry journey in the same direction with the same solid priorities and vital spiritual soil? Which might produce better and more lasting fruit? I don’t think it’s a hard question to answer, even if it is a challenge to be that patient.
When Paul was listing qualities of love in his letter to the Corinthians, the very first he mentions is that “love is patient.” Impatience is unloving. Compassion is patient. Affection is patient. Jesus was patient. Caring for another takes time. Love is patient.
We’ve probably all heard someone say, “Never pray for patience!” But it strikes me that Paul did just that when he prayed that the Colossian Christians would be “strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience (Colossians 1:11).” I may not like how growing in patience feels, but I do long to be a more loving person. Patience is a primary reality of caring.
The basic Greek work for patience in the New Testament is makrothumia or, literally, “long suffering.” Our culture tends to be impatient because one of our basic goals is to reduce and eliminate all suffering, let alone any discomfort. Patience is hard. Patience is uncomfortable. Patience may involve suffering something in my life that may never change, but doing so in a spirit of love.
- Where has your patience been most tested recently?
- As you look at these circumstances and relationships, how is God inviting you respond with care, with patience?