I seem to have been born without the gene for patience. Even Disney World annoyed me as a kid because I could not stand waiting in lines. I’d like to think I have matured some in my “old age.” While lines don’t bother me so much, the current problem is my need for seeing immediate results. I don’t like to wait to see the fruit of my (or another’s) labor, but want to see things happen yesterday. I never like it when my sports teams are going through a “rebuilding year,” or when the garage tells me it will be “a couple of weeks” to get that part in. More seriously, I often lack patience in ministry. I want to see ministries I’m involved in make a noticeable impact quickly, and I tend to want to measure the impact of prayer with an egg time rather than a calendar. I grow frustrated if I do not see the impact of my work and prayers quickly, and often want to give up on something, or someone, when I don’t see results.
My patience was tried for many years by my best friend, Erik. Erik is a brilliant person with a scientific mind. Growing up, Erik had no interest in God or church. He was always the first person who came to mind when we had “invite a friend” Sundays at church, but he was never open to the invitation. We had many discussions about faith, but we never seemed to get anywhere. He was a skeptic, and it seemed it would always stay that way. I have to admit, there were many times that I just wanted to give up on him. But, I kept praying, politely encouraging him, and sharing how I saw God working in my life. Fifteen years after first sharing my faith with him he gave his life to Christ. Now he is heavily involved in his church, and even helps to lead their thriving men’s ministry. His passion for God is amazing to see, and he is doing a lot of great things for God’s Kingdom.
It can be very tempting to lose our patience and give up on ministries or individuals who seem to not be responding to our efforts. Yet, God has called us to persevere in His name. Jesus sums it up in this parable:
“A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” Luke 13:6-9
We need to have the attitude of the Vinedresser when it comes to serving. We need to always be wanting to try one more time, or to go just a bit further, in order to make an impact for God.