3 Ways to Fight Impatience
What causes you to be impatient?
- Sitting in traffic?
- Waiting to be seated at a restaurant?
- Slow service at a restaurant?
- Waiting on your wife to get ready?
- Disciplining your kids?
- Your coworker who does things completely different than you?
Every day we have the opportunity to become impatient. Our impatience can result in sin.
Jerry Bridges describes impatience as a strong sense of annoyance at the (usually) unintentional faults and failures of others (Respectable Sins).
He goes on to say that the cause of our impatience lies within our own hearts, in our attitude of insisting that others around us conform to our expectations. We may become so irritated with the person we're impatient with that we end up tearing them down.
Last Sunday I was at Steak N Shake with my two oldest daughters. I had no plans the rest of the evening. When we entered the restaurant, there was a sign that said, "Please wait to be seated." There was no one to sit us. I waited and waited. Meanwhile, my girls were getting restless and they ran to the spinning chairs and started spinning and were running around. I told them to come back and in my mind I kept thinking to myself, "If only the hostess would come and seat us, this wouldn't be an issue." It took about 4 minutes (felt like 15) before someone came over to help us. I looked behind me at a young couple waiting in line and I said to them, "Well, they're obviously not in a hurry." Then I realized something, "Seth, you are wearing your military uniform with the Christian cross on your uniform and you are representing Christ." I also thought to myself, "Seth, you have nowhere else to be tonight, and you're preaching on impatience next Sunday! This isn't a big deal!"
What happened to me? I got annoyed at the hostess at Steak n Shake, and I voiced my frustration and irritation to people I didn't even know. The staff at Steak n Shake was short-staffed, and I had nowhere else to be that night. My impatience got the best of me.
Has impatience gotten the best of you?
In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus goes to visit His friends, Mary and Martha. These women were sisters of His dear friend, Lazarus. The story goes on to say that Mary was sitting by Jesus, listening to Him teach, while her sister, Martha, was pulled away by all the preparations of the meal for her guests.
Martha became impatient with Mary and Jesus and said to Jesus, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work all by myself? Tell her to help me!"
Martha appears to be a Type-A, perfectionist who likes to get things done. She sees her sister sitting around while she is busy preparing a big meal. She gets impatient and irritated at Mary, and then at Jesus.
Martha responds like many of us would. When we have expectations of others that aren't met, we can get impatient, irritated, and frustrated.
How do we fight impatience?
1. Name It, Claim It, Confess It.
We must understand what impatience is and how we become impatient. We must then acknowledge our sin of impatience and ask the Lord to forgive us. Ask the Lord to help us respond lovingly and not hastily. Ask the Lord to help us to identify the circumstances which cause us to be impatient.
2. Remember God's Patience with Us.
Jesus gently responds to Martha by saying, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:41)."
Jesus could have snapped at Martha, but He responded with compassion by saying, "Martha, Martha..." The doubling of her name at the beginning of an address expresses deep emotion. He's not disappointed or upset, but He gently tells her that she was neglecting the most important thing. Martha didn't need to provide an elaborate meal. She needed to be listening to the wisdom from the Son of God.
God is patient with us everyday. He is slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin (Exodus 34:6-7).
As we remember God's patience with us, we can become more patient with others.
3. Have Love for the Person You're Impatient With.
Ephesians 4:2 tells us, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." The Greek word for patient is makrothumea which means "forbearance, to put up with." We are to overlook and put up with someone who does things differently or even overlook their shortcomings with forgiveness.
Many men struggle with waiting on their wives to get ready. For us as men, it may take 10-15 minutes to get ready. For our wives, it could take a lot longer. Instead of us getting irritated and impatient with waiting on our wife to get ready, we should empathize with her. Men, we don't have to wear make-up. Most of us don't have long hair to blow dry. We don't have to shave our legs. So instead of growing impatient, let's be patient and overlook this (FYI - I'm writing this blog as I'm waiting on my wife. I'm working on it, guys. You should too:)
Having love for the person you're impatient with will help you overlook the things that irritate you about them.
How can you show love and patience with the people who do things that may annoy you?
Impatience is an easy thing to do. If you're struggling with the sin of impatience, confess it to the Lord, remember His patience with us, and love the person you are impatient with.