"Again?!?!" I thought when a coworker failed to leave something in the expected state at the end of their shift.
And then I heard the quiet voice whisper, "Yes, again. Just as I am patient over and over with you when you fail. Show the same patience towards this staff person."
You may be like me and not be a person of great patience when faced with a repetitive failure, the unexpected such as a power failure, or a perceived character flaw in one of your staff or customers.
When we walk out Kingdom values, as we have been discussing together in this series on Expressing the Fruit of the Spirit at work, one of the foundational aspects which help glue the rest together is PATIENCE, or forbearance, depending upon your translation of the Bible.
PATIENCE is defined by the Oxford Language Dictionary as: "the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset." Forbearance is outlined as "patient self-control; restraint and tolerance" by the same dictionary, showing us that patience helps control our behavior and emotions.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)
I don't believe that patience is listed towards the middle of this verse in error, but to remind us that even if we have one or two of these fruit of the Spirit, we really need them all to help us truly walk out our faith, especially at work.
Each of the following verses includes both patience and another of the fruit, emphasizing the need for them to work together within us:
"Hot tempers cause arguments, but patience brings peace." (Proverbs 15:18)
"Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; it is not arrogant." (1 Corinthians 13:4)
"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." (Romans 12:12)
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." (Colossians 3:12)
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." (Ephesians 4:2)
Here are 5 challenges to undertake to become a more patient person, especially at work.
1. Take a few minutes, and speak the above verses out loud. Ask yourself which one speaks the most to you, and invite God to reveal what you are meant to learn for it. Commit this verse to memory as you walk it out daily.
2. Who are you the most impatient within your workplace? If you don't know why, ask God to show you why. Take a moment to give the reason over to God and ask Him to replace your impatience with patience. Forgive the person, and invite Holy Spirit to guide you into becoming a more patient person around them.
3. The next time the printer runs out of paper, the power goes out, the order gets lost in the mail, etc? Pause momentarily, close your eyes, and breathe in & out as you process this unexpected situation. If you are still impatient, pray for God to help you remain calm and professional as you face what is causing you stress.
4. Are you characterized by impatience? If so, you may need to discuss this with your mentor or a professional counselor/therapist, depending on the root of your impatience. Being patient is not only a trait of a person of faith but a good business employee, manager, or owner.
5. Remind yourself when you slip up in the area of being patient that the next time is the perfect time to express patience. Forgive yourself for the impatient moment, and move forward confident that God will help you if you invite Him into the next situation.
Taking This to God in Prayer:
God, there are moments when I know I am not as patient as I should or could be at work. I know that often, I haven't taken care of my own needs for downtime, proper eating & adequate hydration when things get busy. And when I am not running on optimum, I open myself up to instantly react instead of pausing to pray and respond with Your guidance. I am sorry, God, for not taking this characteristic of Your Spirit more seriously. Would You point out anything I need to work on so I can leave impatience behind me, and be known as a woman of patience to those I lead, work with or serve? In Jesus' Name, Amen.
May I remember to be patient with others out of gratitude for Your patience with me, God.
Walking alongside you as we become more patient Christian women at work,
Karla Lees, Christian Women at Work