Over the last several months I have spent quite a bit of time talking about the importance of running the race that God has set in front of us. You can read more about that here.
As I have worked through this idea there, is one truth that I am reminded of again and again:
In order to run our race and accomplish all that God has set before us, WE MUST BE PATIENT! It’s right there in the verse:
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
We will never accomplish anything of lasting value, and definitely not eternal value, if we do not develop patient, steadfast, endurance. The problem? We are living in a world and at a time when instant gratification is king! Long-term projects are avoided along with discomfort, hardship and disappointment. But for those that really do want to run the race God has set before us, we must move against the norm of our day and become patient people.
The question is, “How do we develop patience?”
I am sure there are some other great ways to develop patience in your life, but here are 10 ways to develop patience that can serve as a starting point if you are series about running your race.
1. Finish what you start. If you have unfinished projects in your life, commit to getting them done before taking on others.
2. Get in the habit of doing hard things. Reading books that require thought, learning a new physical skill, developing a talent that will require time to master-These all take time and commitment and will help you to become more patient.
3. Evaluate projects and goals based on their value and not on how long they will take to accomplish. Most things of value require time. Hold yourself to the standard of doing the long, even when inconvenient best thing instead of the short, convenient good thing. Don’t make things harder than they need to be, but don’t take shortcuts that will lower quality.
4. Hold yourself to the standard of delaying gratification in every area of your life. Make doing the BEST thing the standard in every area.
5. Stay out of the trap of comparison. We tend to look at the success of others and conclude that it came easily and quickly. This causes us to get discouraged when we have not experienced the same level of perceived success. Focus on what YOU are doing instead of what others are doing. You are not responsible for them and have no idea how long their “overnight success” actually took.
6. Realize that discomfort, either physical or emotional, is not necessarily bad. In fact anything that requires time will also require periods of discomfort. That’s one of the main reasons people quit long-term projects. They have gotten uncomfortable and know that by quitting the discomfort will also end. Embrace discomfort as part of the price of accomplishing something meaningful.
7. When you are feeling rushed or anxious, make a conscious decision to slow down and focus on the “long game”. Push back on the urge to “make something happen right now” and, instead, focus on the steps in front of you.
8. Learn to become more concerned about the process than the end or the goal. When the process becomes the focus, patience will be produced. Do the work in front of you and the end will come. I like to call this, “running the mile you are in.” You can read more about that here.
9. Remember why you started in the first place. When we become overwhelmed, tired, or impatient, it is easy to forget why we started. When feeling impatient take some time to remember, or better yet write out, why you first thought this was important. If it is still important, get back to work.
10. Get some rest when necessary but don’t use rest as a way to quit. It is easy to step away from what we are doing without a plan for getting back to work. We don’t say we are quitting, we just have no intention of ever starting again! Rest is important and can be essential when working to accomplish something that requires a great deal of patience. When you do take some time off though, set a firm time for when the break will end and the work will commence.
Work diligently to develop patience in your life and you will will accomplish all that God sets before you!