When my 6-year old nephew visits me, I might let him play video games slightly more than he does at home. Don’t judge. I’m just trying to make sure I keep my good standing as the favored aunt. 

He’s a bright kid and he picks up new things rather easily, so when he came over recently, he wanted to download more games to play on the iPad. After getting an app and playing it a few times, he got really frustrated with his lack of success and tossed the iPad aside on the sofa.

“I can’t win this game, so I’m not playing anymore!” he fumed and crossed his little arms.

We proceeded to have a conversation about how we don’t quit things just because we don’t learn how to do them after two or three attempts. We talked about how some games are just more difficult, and he would get better at them over time. 

He didn’t like my pep talk too much. 

I considered sharing with him how Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, says that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something and how he had barely been alive 10,000 hours, so he just needed to chill about the iPad…but I didn’t. 

Because right then, I remembered how I had thrown a similar fit to the Lord about how my social calendar had taken a nosedive since moving to a smaller town from the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The Lord reminded me, like I reminded my nephew, that these things take time. I had been in the town for less than two weeks, and community doesn’t develop quite so quickly.

I didn’t like His pep talk too much either—mainly because, similar to my nephew, I value efficiency. 

Who among us likes to take the scenic route to work every day? Or getting out of our car to pick up our fast food instead of using the drive-thru? Or dial-up Internet when we can have high-speed access?

We’re an impatient people in an impatient society.

The problem is we can’t be impatient when it comes to our personal development. Think about it:

Dating

Occasionally a guy and a girl meet, fall in love, and marry within days or weeks of meeting each other. The rest of us slowpokes take our time getting to know each other through the dating process and engagement period. Both of those could last for months or years.

Financial Improvements

Becoming debt free doesn’t happen when we decide to cut up the credit cards and stop using them. It is a long, arduous process of reframing the way we steward the money God has entrusted us with. It’s building a system of paying down the debt, assessing needs versus luxuries, saving for future expenses, and giving generously.

Creative Endeavors

Writing a book, learning to play an instrument, painting a piece of art, filming a movie—none of these things occur because someone sat down with an instrument and the creative juices just flowed. Well, maybe it happened to a few of the most gifted, but for the rest of us normal folks, it was a process that began one day and was developed through 10,000 hours (or whatever the magic number is) of hard work.

Personal Improvements

Losing 50 pounds doesn’t happen the first week you decide to start eating healthy, the first week of quitting smoking is far from the end of the battle, you aren’t fluent in a foreign language after the first Rosetta Stone lesson, and Couch to 5k doesn’t have you 5k ready until week 10.

If it really is true that anything of value takes time, then why would we think our spiritual growth should be any different?

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.” {John 15:5-8, The Message}