When I think about one of our greatest wishes as Christian leaders, I believe one of the core ones has to be…helping people flourish. When people are flourishing, they are experiencing richer and richer internal freedom, security, and fullness–as they truly grow in the love of God. That sounds so good. Jesus of course is the ultimate guide to helping people flourish, and patience is one of the foundational qualities he possessed. Becoming more patient ourselves, therefore is vital if we really want to help people flourish.
Patience and Tenderness
To gain a greater appreciation for the patience of Jesus, we have to take a quick look at a few things.
First, Paul famously writes in 1st Corinthians 13 about love. The first quality that he mentions, that I have to believe was intentional, is that love is patient. Frankly, it is so easy to be impatient and short, especially with children. It is so easy to lapse into a selfish posture that children, (or even others!) should be seen and not heard. The disciples fell for this trap too when some parents wanted Jesus to bless their precious kids. But Jesus, a man possessing incredible tenderness, patience, kindness and gentleness, instead said: “let the little children come to me” and he tenderly put his hands on them, took them in his arms, and blessed them (Matthew 19:13-14, Mark 10:13-16). How incredible is that? When he could’ve been swept away by a temptation to be popular or look important, and therefore not have time for little kids, instead he pauses, rebukes the disciples for their foolishness, then takes the time to tenderly hug and bless the little kids. I’m guessing those kids and parents never forgot that moment. That is inspiring, right?
Patience as He Waits for His Dad’s Direction in the Midst of Suffering
Two more quick things about the patience of Jesus. I just have to think that it took incredible patience to wait to start his ministry at the age of roughly 30. There is really strong evidence to to say that even at 12, he had a profound understanding of his heavenly Father, given how he wowed the crowd at the Temple (Luke 2: 41 – 48.) Then imagine waiting 18 years, yes 18 years, while you are watching the religious leaders of your Father’s chosen people completely misrepresent your Father, and make it terribly hard for them to find life in Him. Jesus patiently waited until led by His Father to engage in his calling. Very impressive.
Patience with his Clueless Disciples
Now let’s bring this closer to home. Imagine the patience of Jesus to see his disciples, time after time after time not get who he was, and yet he still loves them. He doesn’t let the cluelessness of his disciples to deter him from loving them. He doesn’t let how slow to believe they are, how tiring they are, how prone they are to foolishness and even betrayal, deter his love for them. He is so patient! (2 Peter 3:9). Man, that is such good news, because it also applies to us. Phew.
Patient with our Shortcomings
Jesus is the exemplar of helping people flourish partially because he is so remarkably patient with our shortcomings; shortcomings that often heal at a snail’s pace, sometimes taking decades, if not longer, to be overcome. And, candidly, some of those shortcomings will be there until we are completely healed on the other side. Yet, he continues to love us, and provide forgiveness and patience for our journeys as we so so gradually grow up.
While there are certainly times when need to challenge and confront (which we will address at some point), being patient, and praying for patience with the folks you are called to help flourish is critical. Why? Because when they sense we are impatient, when we are impatient, they do not feel safe. And when people don’t feel safe, they clam up and move into superficial land. The chance for a transformational relationship with you is now extremely unlikely; the chance to flourish through time with you is not a real possibility. That is not good.
If you need a greater dose of patience to help people flourish, (I know I certainly do at times), please trust in the patience of Jesus to ask him to give you more of what he has so much of.
May God draw you further into His dreams for your life, and grant you more of His patience to help people find greater life in Him.