The exhortation to be patient goes down easier when it comes from the Lord. In I Th. 5:14 we read “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”
All of us have a list of things that challenge our patience. Here are a few that are at the top of my list. You surely have your own list.
I am impatient with the pace of change. When I was in college I had a professor who jokingly stated the most exciting thing in his home town was to sit around and watch chrome rust. His words reflected on the slow pace of change in his hometown.
Slowness to change characterizes the church. I feel the church functions forty to fifty years behind society.
I am impatient with the rate at which people grow. It would be nice if people were instantly mature in Christ. It has been said you can grow a mushroom overnight, but it takes decades to grow and oak tree. The same is true for believers. Maturity does not occur overnight.
I am impatient with things I cannot change. I told a pastor this morning, one of the things you will never change, is church jumping. The reasons for people leaving are myriad. You may see an ebb and flow of this trend, but you cannot change it.
I am impatient to see the church more passionate about outreach and ministry. I would like to see a gospel witness in every home in the community. I would like to see ministry to every hurt in the community.
So, what do we do with this demon called impatience?
First, I am reminded to look in the mirror on a regular basis. Whenever I criticize others I need to look in the mirror and see the blemishes in my character. All of us have plenty of room for growth.
Second, do not give up. Change comes slowly and with a price. For instance, it has taken decades for America to move beyond the spectacle of slavery and its effects. Change truly has come slowly. However, none of us would want to see the black eye of slavery in our country again.
Third, harness the energy of impatience to make a positive difference. Work with others, plan, strategize, learn from others who are making a positive difference, read books, share your heart, and be positive about the change you desire.
When we fail to harness the negative energy of our struggles they will eat us alive. God has more in mind than our being consumed by negative emotions. Jesus faced a group of people who would not change. Their intensity hung Him on a cross. My prayer is that those of us who serve in ministry will endure in spite of things we cannot change.