The Enemies of Patience

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against these things. –Galatians 5:22-23

It should have been easier. I was at the supermarket. I was in the ten items or less express lane. I was in a hurry. I had two items. But then… (it seems like there is always a “but”) the guy in front of me had sixteen items. I counted! Sixteen items. This included counting the bunch of bananas as one item, not seven. He wasn’t even rebuked by the clerk at the register. Then, the guy takes out his checkbook. Isn’t this the 21st Century? Had he not heard of debit cards? By the time it was my turn to check out, my mood matched the now squashed hotdog buns I was holding. I wish I was a more patient person.

We all have things that trigger our impatience. Maybe for you it’s traffic, or kids, or being late, or parents, or your spouse. But, what is it that actually fuels impatience in our lives? I think there are three big enemies of patience:

1. Overload. We try to cram too much activity into our schedules and this results in a lifestyle that has no margin. It leaves no breathing room. So when we find ourselves running behind, it breeds impatience. When you live a life with no margin, any little mismanagement or unforeseen circumstance can result in losing your patience.

2. Unrealistic Expectations. Many of us place high expectations on those closest to us. Typically, these people are our spouse, kids, and closest friends. Then, when they don’t live up to our expectations, we grow impatient. But, the truth is that people cannot possibly live up to every expectation (many of which are unspoken) that we place on them. People aren’t perfect and sooner or later, they won’t live up to our expectations.

3. Pride. Impatience rears its ugly head whenever pride is challenged. When we selfishly think we deserve better treatment than we receive, our egos puff up and our impatience blows out.

I wish there were some easy answers for resolving these enemies to patience. But, these are issues that most Christians continue to wrestle with throughout their lives. I know that I do.

The bottom line is that we need to continually pursue the reign of God’s kingdom in our lives, where we say, “Not my will Lord, but Yours.” When we do this, we begin to see new options for how we can respond. We see that we don’t have to walk hand-in-hand with the enemies of patience. When someone smacks our face, we can turn and give her the other cheek. When someone wants our shirt, we can offer him our coat as well. When someone forces us to walk a mile on his behalf, we can walk a second mile voluntarily.

Each day we face choices where we either embrace the enemies of patience or embrace God’s kingdom. As we seek His kingdom, patience grows. Our patience changes us, and it changes others as well. Today, choose to allow God to reign in you and grow the fruit of patience in your life.

GOING DEEPER:
1. Most often, what triggers your impatience?

2. In what circumstances will you most need to say “Not my will Lord, but Yours” today?

FURTHER READING:
Matthew 5:43-48; Matthew 6:9-10, 33-34; Proverbs 14:29; Ephesians 4:2

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Doug Fields

Doug Fields

Doug Fields is the senior director of HomeWord. He speaks to thousands of leaders, teenagers and parents each year. He’s also the author/co-author of 50+ books including: Parenting in a Screen Saturated Culture; Intentional Parenting; 7 Ways to be Her Hero – the One Your Wife Has Been Waiting For; and To Have and To Hold. In addition to Doug’s speaking and writing, he is also the co-founder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com and the youth pastor at Mariners Church. Doug has been married for 35 years to his wonderful wife Cathy, and they live near their 3 married children and 1 grandchild in Southern California.

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