By Regi Campbell
I’m a work in progress when it comes to patience. For years, I had almost none. I was in a hurry everywhere. I hated standing in lines and waiting on hold. Impatient with everything and everybody. Slowly but surely, I’m making some progress. Here’s how:
- Control the controllables, set aside what you can’t control – Sitting with Jeremy Affeldt, the former San Francisco Giant pitcher who owns three World Series rings, someone asked what were the most important things he learned through 14 years in the majors. He said, “Don’t focus on the uncontrollables. Spend all your energy on the current situation and on what you can affect.” It’s a little like the Serenity Prayer ... “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Once I’ve done all I can do to affect the controllables, I can relax and trust God for the outcome ... if I choose to!
- Think about the worst-case scenario – I learned this one from my wife one day while sitting in an awful traffic jam. She saw my frustration and said, “Hey, what if God has allowed us to be right here to protect us from something awful?” My mind flashed back to my childhood when the next-door neighbor’s house burned. I walked up to the fence to watch the firefighters battling the blaze. About two minutes earlier, there was a live power line hanging from a tree exactly where I was standing. That was exactly the time I was impatiently arguing with my mom to let me walk over to the fence. Being ‘late’ might have saved my life.
- Patience usually brings more information – I hate putting things off. I’m a ‘build it, try it, fix it’ kind of guy. But I’m learning that if I wait just a little bit ... if I let the situation unfold and the facts reveal themselves to me, I’ll end up with more data and a better decision. One of my bosses taught “Make no decision before its time.” I thought that was dumb at the time. Now I realize he’s right. There’s no real value in ‘get ‘er done’ just for progress’ sake. There might be something else come to light at the last minute ... something that could lead to a better decision.
- People require patience – Not everyone thinks, decides, or moves at the same speed. Impatience can communicate disrespect. Don’t you think the barista at Starbucks sees you pacing and looking at the time? When I’m patient with people and make them feel like I appreciate them (even if they don’t go as fast as I’d like), I’m being like Jesus. I’m “loving my neighbor.”
- Lean on your faith – We can’t do the first four without this one. Faith in our sovereign loving God enables us to choose patience! If I choose to trust God with the outcome of everything, I will grow in patience.
James 1:3 says, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience.” But then there’s verse 4 – “let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
So “the trying of your faith works patience” or paraphrased, “patience grows as you exercise your faith.” If we want to be “complete,” we have to practice trusting God, and along the way, He’ll grow our patience.
Think and Pray
Think of patience as a muscle. With proper nutrition (faith) and intentional exercise, it not only makes us stronger, but it enables us to give strength to others.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
Regi Campbell is an experienced investor and entrepreneur by trade. But his real passion is mentoring younger men. In 2007, Regi founded Radical Mentoring to help encourage and equip mentors and churches to launch mentoring groups. He has written four books: About My Father’s Business, Mentor Like Jesus, What Radical Husbands Do, and Radical Wisdom. Regi currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife of 47 years, Miriam.