The Power of Patience

Once Jilane and I were trying to grab a meal on the run and we drove into an El Pollo Loco. Quick, here’s a quiz. What does El Pollo Loco mean? It means the crazy chicken. As I begin to order, I say, “I’d like an 8 piece meal” and the cashier said “I’m sorry sir, but we are out of chicken.” How do you run out of chicken at El Pollo Loco? That was a patience test

What is a patience test for you?
Lights off
Waiting for test results?

Our culture feeds our impatience

We all face daily patience tests and how we deal with them is important.
The cashier at El Pollo Loco doesn’t care what church you go to
The people in your office don’t care how many bible studies you attend
Your kids don’t care if you have a handle on the Greek new testament
But one quality that will immediately attract the people in your life to you, one characteristic that will soften their spirits and endear you to them is … patience. The ability to accept delay graciously.

1) Slow your pace

Most of us live our lives at a frantic pace.

Work through Hurry Index.

1. Do you hate to wait in line?
2. Do you seem to be short of time to get everything done?
3. Do you detest wasting time?
4. Do you eat fast?
5. Do you drive over the speed limit?
6. Do you try to do more than one thing at a time?
7. Do you become impatient if others do something too slowly?
8. Do you feel guilty when you relax?
9. Does it take you several days into your vacation before you can relax?
10. Do you find yourself overcommitted?
11. Do you think about other things during conversation?
12. Do you hate dawdling after a meal?
13. Do you become irritable if kept waiting?
14. Do you gauge the check out lines to see which is the fastest?
15. Does your concentration sometimes wander while you think about what’s coming up later?

Who scored 35 or above? 25 -34? Okay, who are the really patient people who make us all sick who scored under 25?

A recent Harris poll found that Americans today spend 8 1/2 hours less time relaxing now than we did in the 80’s. Hurry is becoming an addiction in our lives

Psalm 127: 2 (From the Message) “It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he (God) enjoys giving rest to those he loves?”

Matthew 6: 31-34
31 So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

What a perfect picture of hurry. The pagans run after all these things. How often do we run after things that in reality, we don’t really need. God’s answer is in the next verse

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I have a son who, no matter where we are going, is typically ten steps behind the rest of the family. He’s always holding up the rear. You know what he’s doing. He’s thinking. He’s observing. He’s day dreaming. And too often we are saying “hurry up, let’s get moving, we’ve got to go.” I’m afraid that I’m going to teach my son to stop dreaming and start hurrying and I’m not sure I want him to learn that lesson.

Before we go on, let me give you five tips, straight from my seven year old, about how to slow down
1) Notice your surroundings
2) Always look for treasure
3) Walk, don’t run
4) Lose yourself in the moment
5) Enjoy the journey

2) Lengthen your fuse

The word patience that the bible uses is actually a combination of two words. One is the word for anger. The other is the word long. When the bible talks about patience it literally means long anger or slow wrath while impatience is short anger or quick wrath. This definition reminds me of the common saying we have “He has a short fuse.” That saying is the perfect contrast to patience. As Christians we are to have a long fuse.

Proverbs 14:29 says “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.”

Tony Zappia, 33, of Santa Monica, Calif., was seriously injured in April in an incident that began when a bird sitting on a lamppost relieved itself on Zappia’s head. Angered, Zappia began shaking the lamppost but only succeeded in loosening a large bulb, which crashed onto his head, fracturing his skull.

How many stupid things have you and I done because we had a short fuse.

A long fuse repairs relationships, a short fuse ruins relationships

Proverbs 15:18 “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.”

That word “Stirs” means to whip yourself into a frenzy. It’s not external circumstances that bring fury it’s internal circumstances.

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence… Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.

A long fuse establishes our reputation, a short fuse erases our reputation

Proverbs 16:32 “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.”

Patrick Roy spent a career building a reputation as the greatest goalie in hockey history. That work finally paid off last month when he defeated the Washington Capitals for his 447th victory breaking the 30 year old mark for victories by a goal tender. During a 25-minute pre-game ceremony the following Friday, Roy was presented with a bronze sculpture of himself and thanked Colorado fans as his wife and the couple’s three children stood smiling nearby. Many have called him the Hank Aaron of Hockey because of his great success and achievement. However, the reputation Roy spend a career building came crashing to the ground 2 days after the celebration. Less than a week after breaking Terry Sawchuk’s NHL career victory record, Roy appeared in court Monday after his arrest in a domestic dispute with his wife, Michele. According to a police report, Michele Roy called 911 early Sunday because she was afraid of what her husband would do as they argued about in-laws. Michele Roy was not hurt during the dispute at their home, but Roy admitted pulling a bedroom door off its hinges and damaging another. Patrick Roy’s reputation and glory was tarnished forever by a short fuse

3) Overcome a selfish outlook

As human beings we are well equipped to see life from others perspectives. We just so rarely do it.

Nowhere is that more true than when we are driving. I recently heard the quote “Everyone down deep believes they are an excellent driver” Would you agree with that? Would you also agree that most people, when it comes to their driving skill, are diluted? It’s because we are never more self-centered than we are when we are driving. Has this ever happened to you. You are driving and out of nowhere a car cuts you off. What is your reaction? You honk your horn and say to yourself,“The jerk, who does he think he is, how dare he pull a stunt like that and risk my life.” Then, no more than 5 minutes later, on the same commute, you are day dreaming and forget your turn off until it’s only a quarter of a mile away so you have to cut it a little close to get over to make your exit. And someone has the gall to honk their horn. And then what is our reaction. “Relax, it was only a lane change. Give me a break.” George Carlin once said “Everyone who drives faster than me is an idiot and everyone who drives slower than me is a moron.” That’s true, isn’t it?

As human beings we are well equipped to see life from others perspectives. We just so rarely do it. To be patient means we take the time to see life from the perspective of others, not just our own. Let’s look at what God says

Philipianps 2:4 echoes that when it says “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

It should be our study to see things from the perspective of others. To expect the best and not the worst. To overcome a selfish outlook.

Years ago, when I was just out of college, I had a friend who was really good at standing up for his rights. If he got bad service at a restaurant, or poor quality from a store, he would march right up to the person in charge and stand up for his rights. His favorite phrase was “Can I speak with the manager?” I thought it was cool because he got free meals, and free equipment, better prices, free dry cleaning. So I began to adopt this “customer is always right” mentality. I stood up for my rights and I started to get some free stuff. I also learned, and unfortunately it took me years to learn this, that sometimes standing up for my rights means standing on someone else’s toes. It took me years to unlearn that lesson of standing up for my rights.

4) W- Wait on God

We live in an instant world, don’t we. I did some research on what you can buy instantly.

Who has an Amazon addiction?

Instant oatmeal, instant rice, instant coffee, instant pudding, instant breakfast, instant cameras, instant noodles, instant soup, instant potatoes, instant tea. I found books on instant german, instant french, instant harmonica, instant juggling, the instant gratification cook book, instant kung fu, and, no kidding, instant emotional healing. We want everything instantly. God has a different plan. He says over and over and over that we need to be willing to wait

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14

Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land. Psalm 37:34

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning. Psalm 130:5,6

Those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:31

Your impatience may be with God. You want answers. You want to know what to do in your marriage. You want answers to how to communicate with your kid. You want to know now if God wants you to stay in your current job or step out. For some of you, your impatience. Why does God make us wait. I found the following quote from F.B. Meyer that answers that question perfectly

God has his set times. It is not for us to know them. Indeed, we cannot know them. We must wait for them. If God had told Abraham that he must wait all those years until he pressed the promised child to his bosom, his heart would have failed him. So in gracious love, the length of the weary years was hidden. And only as they were nearly spent and there were only a few more months to wait, God told him, according to the time of life, “Sarah shall have a son.” If God told you on the front end how long you would wait to find the fulfillment of your desire or pleasure or dream, you’d lose heart. You’d grow weary in well doing. So would I. But he doesn’t. He just says, “Wait. I keep my word. I’m in no hurry. In the process of time I’m developing you to be ready for the promise.”