Patience is not a virtue we teach, admire or even desire much these days. We live in a world of instant gratification; a “just add water” generation. This is especially true in the realm of church leadership.
These days there is a tendency in the church that once a decision has been made, a vision has been cast or an idea has been shared that we must act immediately. Somehow, we seem to often miss the crucial step of prayer. (Phil 4:6) Or, how about the process of carefully choosing leaders, appointing them and training them? We must take lots of care and caution in that area according to 1 Timothy 5:22.
Often times we miss both of these crucial steps and end up creating HUGE messes. All of this comes out of a desire to have instant gratification. But, when we seek instant gratification and success, we will grow weary and wear out quickly. This is one reason why many volunteers, leaders and pastors burnout and leave the ministry!
I can think of two great leaders in Scripture who had to exercise patience in order for God to work. The first is Joshua at the battle against Jericho. (Joshua 6) God asked him to march 6 days around the city walls in preparation for God’s victory. Those six days probably seemed pointless and a waste of time. But, that time was in God’s plan!
Then, on the 7th day, by doing exactly as God had instructed, He caused the walls to crumble and the city to be over taken by Israel. During those days of waiting the people had to seek after God, praise him and wait to see his glory revealed.
The other great leader is Gideon. God called him to lead an army to defeat the Midianites, who had been oppressing His people. (Judges 6–7) The army came to Gideon with over 32,000 men. Seems like a pretty good-sized army.
But God says in Judges 7:2 “… the people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand …” So, after a lengthy process, God weeded that army down to only 300 men! Gideon could have destroyed the enemy with 32,000 men by his own planning. But, because Gideon listened to God and was obedient to listening to His will, God used only 300 men to destroy an army of thousands!
Both of these men had success, but that success came from waiting on God. They had patience. They used that time of patience to be dedicated to prayer, planning and appointing of the right leaders! That was the key to success.
As pastors we need to listen closely to God’s call and will for our lives. When He gives us vision, we need to act upon it. But, sometimes that vision needs time to mature and be ready for action.
As visionary leaders we will always see things that can be changed, improved and made excellent. But, sometimes these things need to wait as we prepare through prayer, planning and seeking the right men and women to lead.
Are you a patient leader or an anxious leader? Is ministry about your timing or God’s timing? Do you realize that if you wait on God, He will renew your strength and you will soar like a majestic eagle as you lead His church and His people.
You will be able to keep up and not wear out, burn out and give up. That is the way God intends us to lead His people! (Isaiah 40:31)