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Intersection of Life and Faith

Modeling Patience for a Younger Generation

  • Timothy Craig Conner
  • 2013 28 Aug
Modeling Patience for a Younger Generation
"I waited patiently and expectantly for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry" (Ps. 40:1).

Patience often is overlooked as there are many other things a person sees of importance in his or her life. Such things might include a high-paying job, family, physical features or ego. However, patience is a very important aspect to be included in an individual's life. It is what allows one to look within and examine his or her heart and rationalize within a situation. Patience causes one to think through decisions and emotions so as not to make irresponsible decisions. Without patience, one often finds one's self in a state of anger and frustration that can lead to a mental and emotional breakdown, which can lead to a negative outcome.

Patience is something that takes work. It is not a characteristic that is developed overnight, the course of a few days or through a book written by a Harvard scholar. It is something requiring dedication, perseverance and concentration. A person often will tell a child to be patient or hold on, but when this action is not demonstrated by a parent or other adult mentor, it can be misleading to a young person. In order for someone of a younger generation to comprehend what patience means, he or she must see it lived out each and every day. Patience is something that can be practiced in virtually any situation. A more obvious one would be arguments or disagreements between parents or siblings. What about something as simple as a sporting event, driving, shopping or grocery shopping? One needs to be more aware of the opportunities that are presented to display patience and take advantage of them.

Many times, a person is quick to react from emotion without stopping to think through a situation. How often do you see someone sit down and rationalize through circumstances that otherwise would be solved by a simpler means or not deal with at all? What it comes down to is maturity. It takes a higher level of maturity to handle situations with patience. It is much easier to yell, throw things and become angry than it is to take a deep breath, step back and truly examine your options. The option of patience may seem to be backing down when in reality you are stepping up. In Proverb 14:29 says a patient man shows great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly. In other words, someone who is patient demonstrates an understanding of how to handle situations to bring about a more positive outcome while a person who is quick-tempered often stumbles because of an inability to rationalize through problems.

How does one begin to display patience? It has to be a daily (often multiple times throughout the day) decision to take a step back and analyze the situation. When someone upsets you, forgive the person. Don't lash back at them. When someone swerves in front of you on the highway, say a quick prayer and wave. When you're in a busy grocery store, try not to be self-centered; allow someone to walk in front of you instead of pushing your way through. This is not to suggest you become a perfect citizen, but that you take the time to practice patience and put others first, which comes directly from Christ.

Love God, love others. This is another aspect of patience. It is not self-centered. By being patient, one is demonstrating that someone else is of enough importance that they are not going to retaliate or that others are seen through the eyes of Christ, a broken, lost soul in need of a Savior.

We as sinful humans do not deserve the patience God shows us. Perhaps others do not deserve patience from you. However, if God continually can show patience when we continually neglect Him and put our own interests first, then who are we to withhold a small amount of patience from others? We love because God first loved us. We are kind because God is kind to us. In the same way, we should be patient because He is patient with us. When we become angry with someone, instead of showing patience with them, we are suggesting we as sinful human beings are of more value than they are. This is completely false and again goes back to maturity. One needs to realize we are all children of God and all deserve the same respect and patience that each of us has been shown.

Patience is not something that will develop overnight, and we should not expect it to develop quickly. It is something that is developed by prayer and practice on a daily basis. It is a conscious decision that each one of us has to make and be aware of the circumstances that require such a decision. When we display patience, we can avoid those mental and emotional breakdowns that easily make their way into our lives each and every day.