Need more patience in your life? In this fifth part of our series “A Better New Year’s Resolution,” the Relationship Helpers discuss how to become a more patient person. If you have been following this series, you’ve probably noticed that we are not focusing on typical New Years resolutions such as weight loss and diet.
Instead, we are more interested in looking at changes that come from the inside. Be sure to check out our episodes on being more friendly, cheerful, generous and brave if this is your first time joining us.
Many people feel they have a short supply of patience, however life demands patience. The gestation of a baby takes about ten months. Getting an education takes many years. Great things usually require time, effort, persistence and patience.
Our culture has bypassed the need for these traits in many ways. With the advent of same-day deliveries and grocery-pickups, we don’t even have to shop in the traditional sense anymore.
Standoffish at the Supermarket
Laura shares a recent in-store grocery shopping experience. She admits that she was in no rush and realizes that others were. She completed her shopping and went to the first checkout aisle. She was not the first person in line.
It became very obvious to her that the young cashier working the line was new to his job. He was being very cautious and careful, and was having some difficulty with things. She tells us that these kind of things don’t bother her because she tries to put herself in others’ shoes and so she felt for this cashier. She reminds us that WE ALL have been the new person at some point in our lives.
He completes the transaction and it’s Laura’s turn. She has a sizeable cartload of groceries. Laura noticed a lady behind her in line as she’s checking out. The woman is shifting side to side; she’s not handling the situation well. Her body language is communicating her displeasure. She’s even talking to the cashier before she’s even the next customer in line.
Oh No! The Coupon…
As the cashier finishes ringing up Laura’s groceries, Laura produces a coupon for formula. Now these coupons are run like travelers checks and are not like your typical bar code coupons. Laura always dreads giving them to cashiers because she knows that running them is a little more complicated from the many times managers have been called in to complete these transactions in the past. The cashier calls in the manager.
Meanwhile, the customer in line is still stewing. She has to wait as the cashier finishes the transaction, complete with printing out a two-foot sales receipt accompanied by all of the grocery store coupons attached to the print-out. Laura proceeds to fold up the wad of receipt tape to head out on her way and she hears the lady behind her say to the cashier, “Can you just hurry, I’m in a rush.”
This bothered Laura because she realized how the lady was hurting her cause. Her tone of voice, the body language she used, and desire to rush the job was not going to make the cashier work effectively. Her behavior was not going to get her through the line any faster because he was learning.
Haste Makes Waste…
When you try to speed up someone like that, they are more likely to make more mistakes. If you are patient with people, it can really go far. People perform better when you approach them with kindness and patience.
In fact in the scenario Laura mentions, this woman may have actually slowed her checkout process even more BECAUSE of the aggressive way she acted. The cashier could have rung something up twice, charged wrong, or missed something, thus slowing her chances of getting out fast even more.
If she had taken a few breaths and considered the young cashier’s situation, she may have gotten out faster. Instead, she emanated pressured, nervous energy.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Next time you’re in a checkout line with an associate in training, or you’re working with children or senior adults, give them time and patience. A little can go far!
How Do I Become More Patient?
1.) Slow Down
Part of being patient is learning how to slow down. As therapists, Vincent and Laura work frequently with people who need to learn this habit. They often give their clients the homework of “SLOWING DOWN”. This means slowing how fast you talk, how fast you walk, slowing your thoughts, etc. It forces you to listen.
Laura feels that if the woman in the checkout line had slowed down to listen and pay attention, she would have realized that the young associate was new to his job.
We become more observational when we are more patient. We’ve talked in other podcast episodes about being present and in the moment.
When you’re patient, you are more present. You notice more things because you are not allowing your busy or nervous behavior to overwhelm your senses.
In James 1:19 we are told to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. When you do as this scripture says, you are being more patient, but you also notice more things. You notice more of what others are saying and doing because you are not trying to formulate what you’re going to say next while the other person is talking.
God’s time versus our time are two different ends of the spectrum. One of God’s qualities is His patience. Think about how much grace He gives us. Wow. We’re all just living in grace.
Vincent feels that one of Satan’s tactics is to get us going too fast. Laura mentions how God is timeless and how we as humans measure time.
Almost everything we own has time marked on it somehow. Vincent feels that Satan uses our culture’s sense of busyness to throw us off course. David Jeremiah once mentioned, “B-U-S-Y is being burdened under Satan’s yoke.”
What would happen if we did not put worldly expectations on ourselves, but instead considered doing things on God’s time?
Laura finds that a suffering prayer life can really harm us. She knows this from personal experience. If we don’t put God first, we are acting out of our own will and now His.
Frank Laubach gave this morning prayer: “Lord, what are you doing today that I can help you with?” If you’re too busy to pray, you don’t give Him the opportunity to work through you. Mr. Laubach’s prayer says two things:
1. God is at work in the world. God doesn’t wait for us to act, but invites us to join in on what is already going on.
2. There are some things God is doing that we aren’t expected to do. Every disciple has their own assignment.
You will be missing out on God’s blessings when you don’t pray.
3.) Allowing God to work things out in His time
We have a tendency to tell God what to do … “God this is what needs to happen…” We really are sabotaging God’s process.
Ironically, sometimes we pray for things from our own knowledge, when God has even better ideas for us. We just need to listen to Him and study Him to see how He is working for the better in our lives.
Abraham is one of the early examples in the Bible of someone sabotaging God. God had told him that he would be a father of a great nation.
Out of his impatience, Abraham gets another woman pregnant, rather than patiently working through God’s timetable and waiting for his own wife to become pregnant. His wife Sarah, is just as guilty of sabotaging God in this instance because she okayed Abraham impregnating Hagar.
Stanley Arnold said, “Every problem contains within itself the seeds of its own solution.” Mr. Arnold’s profession was consulting with businesses to overcome problems. He developed his motivation early on.
In school Mr. Arnold struggled with the long jump. While the other students were able to jump far and stick their landings, young Stanley would fall backwards.
He was embarrassed about his jumps so he practiced at home. He discovered that he could always stick his landing if he jumped backwards, so he continued to practice jumping backwards.
One day he asked the gym teacher if the students could try a backwards jump. To everyone’s surprise, Stanley could do it better than everyone else! He was the “back jump” champion! His problem contained the solution and because he was patient and studied the problem, he used his strengths to solve the problem.
4.) Taking time to appreciate things – aesthetics, God’s provision, gratitude
Stanley Arnold had a gift and recognized it. In the late 1880s, oil companies made money selling kerosene.
The byproduct of kerosene is gasoline. There was tons of gasoline made during kerosene’s heyday. It was viewed as waste. It took patience for the oil companies to discover the uses of gasoline and profit from it.
5.) Allowing others to learn, grow, & figure things out for themselves
Patience of others allows new cashiers to learn their jobs. Good teachers recognize this. They allow students, to a certain degree, to teach themselves rather than forcing it. They facilitate students to teach themselves.
John Wesley was not the greatest preacher. George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards were the ones great at preaching sermons. John Wesley, however, had foresight. His strength, which took patience, was building communities based on theology. His teaching method became the foundation of the Methodist Church.
This kind of work means being able to allow others to fail. Great teachers and great parents know this. Giving people the space and the grace to learn how to fail is important.
Look at Thomas Edison and his hundreds of attempts at making the light bulb. He did not give up. Vincent mentions that Edison tried many different things and failed most of the time, but that is not what he is known for. The same is true for Babe Ruth. He was the strike-out king, but was known for his home runs.
6.) Creates calmness & peace
You can be a model of peace in a chaotic world. You can respond and react calmly. You can take the time to listen. You can take the time to see that you do not have a forced, rushed answer or reaction.
You do not have to be a reactive person. A fast food drive through mentality has influenced our culture in the way that we think, but we do not have to let it.
Vincent describes the Constitutional Conventions and how Benjamin Franklin would attend. He did not talk much at them. When he did talk, people took note.
At the time, he was considered a star. His presence made an impression on people. He was the embodiment of hope. He was the American dream. He was the prime example of what a successful self-made man looked like. During that time most successful men were aristocrats. Franklin did not have that sort of privileged upbringing.
Franklin was in his eighties at this point, and did not need to bother himself with anything, yet his presence at the Constitutional Conventions was extremely helpful. He had a calming effect on the fiery atmosphere of the discussions surrounding the establishment of our fledgling country.
George Washington was also in attendance. He was another calming influence during the volatile meetings. Prior to the Constitutional Conventions, George Washington made a calm, but encouraging statement when he appeared during the discussions of whether the colonies should rebel by wearing his ornamental soldier’s uniform. He knew how to send a message without even saying anything at all.
Benjamin Franklin said, “He that can have patience can have what he will.” This was so for George Washington as he played a figurative role in the assertion for our independence, and eventually became its commander in chief through his calm, steady influence.
Other Quotes About Patience
A Dutch proverb states, “A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.” The vast majority of the attendees of the Constitutional Convention were college educated. George Washington was not. His patience and his presence, however, were imperative to the outcome of the rebellion of the colonies and the establishment of our country.
The Count de Buffon said, “Never think that God’s delays are God’s denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius.” For the most part, the American Revolutionary War was won not through battles, but through strategic retreats. The survival of the colonies was built on the patience of George Washington’s shoulders.
Proverbs 25:15 says, “With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.” In light of our discussion of the birth of our country, this makes sense.
Romans 8: 25 says, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” God is present, we just need to recognize what He has done.
We hope today’s episode has encouraged you to slow down, to listen, to adjust your expectations, to consider God’s timetable over your own, to put God’s will first, to allow God to work through you, to lead through being an influence, and to be an example of calmness and peace.