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Active Patience: Embracing Obstacles as the Path

by Nathan Elliot


The term you only live once (#YOLO) has created a fear of missing out (#FOMO), replacing the joy of missing out (#JOMO). The idea happiness is only found in the immediate dopamine hits of likes, buys, and self-serving choices is promoted by a world that says, “You deserve anything your heart desires.” The problem? No matter how many hits, things, and experiences, we will want more. Instant gratification tells you, "Satisfy your desires now." The peace found in patience has been suppressed for a placebo high that, as quickly as it came, goes.


Longsuffering captures the practice of patience. Longsuffering flourishes in environments not fast, not easy, and often uncomfortable. Leaders who intentionally engage longsuffering find the true value of patience.


Counter-culturally God calls us into patience. The prevailing culture increasingly rejects longsuffering as a virtue. The microwave culture wants everything right now. If you don’t have the money, charge it. If you don’t like your church, find another, or watch it on TV (a total contradiction to the biblical church model). Hate your job, then quit. Patience, however, waits on our salvation (Lam 3:26). Patience waits for our strength to be renewed (Is. 40:31). Patience endures in tribulation (Rom. 12:2). The primary command of loving God and others is patience (Mk. 12:30-31,1 Cor. 13:4).


Biblically, longsuffering is deeply rooted in our faith. Character traits like tenacity, grit, and passionate determination are keys to community progress. Our ability to persevere and suffer well is the crux of success in the passionate pursuit of life. Jesus said, "If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me" (Mark 8:34-35). That’s a clear statement that life is found while suffering and longsuffering requires faith. Faith is active trust, persistence, discipline, and waiting. Faith is an action expressed in our submission to God's providence, benevolence, and activity. The patient activity of walking out our faith one day at a time, interacting with one person at a time, and obeying one command at a time increases our reliance on God and his purpose one moment at a time.


Patience also requires an abundance mindset. An abundance mindset says the resources we have at hand are exactly what God has provided for our success. Despite our resources and environment, the abundance mindset tests, grows, and employs patience strategically. The obstacles and barriers become the path forward. This contrasts with a scarcity mindset that paralyzes with fear because we don't have all we think we need, or leads us to covet things we do not have and act hastily to get them.


We must fight the desire to hurry up in a microwave culture that replaces servant leadership with fear mongers or promises of instant gratification for short-term gains.


We must grow in being uncomfortable.


We must embrace the peace found in longsuffering as an assurance that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).


Julius Ceasar said, “It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die than those willing to endure pain with patience.” God calls us to both die and endure. Longsuffering produces a testimony of rock-solid faith that puts God on display. It intentionally slows our pace to the speed of God’s timing. We focus our attention on the obstacles to empty the resources of the moment in creative ways. We realize that people are the answer, and people of character are always the better answer.


As a person walks by faith, the virtue of patience, longsuffering, and forbearance will become the key to focus, strength, and courage. Meditating and practicing God's call to patience leads to long-term prosperity and success (Josh. 1:7-9).


 



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