All of the fruits of the Spirit work together, collectively, for those who truly aim to walk in the Holy Spirit, but patience is one fruit that is challenged more and more by the instant gratification culture we live in.
Nurturing the virtue of patience in our children is arguably a more challenging task now than it has been in generations past. It used to be that patience wasn’t really a choice, but the only option. Now, we live in an age of convenience with information and entertainment just a click, tap, or voice command away.
Living in a world that is working hard to remove any “waiting” or delayed gratification from our lives makes it particularly challenging for parents who want to instill the value of patience in their children. Although it may be difficult, it is not impossible… especially when we look to God for help.
“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14
Before we work on encouraging patience in our children, it is wise to first examine how patiently we are living our own lives. Modeling patience through our actions and daily choices is more impactful than just instructing our children to be patient. Demonstrating patience could be as simple as choosing to look something up in a book instead of using a smart phone. Or making a meal at home instead of ordering take out. But most importantly, being patient with our children as they learn and grow. Patience, just like any other virtue, is strengthened with practice.
Frustration can be a valuable tool in teaching children patience and perseverance. When we swoop in to try to lessen the discomfort of their waiting, we are taking away their opportunity to seek the Holy Spirit’s help and robbing them of the joy that comes after being patient. Instead of immediately fixing their problem or trying to shorten their wait, be their encourager. Tell them that you have faith in them, just as the Father does, that they can accomplish what they put their mind to.
Working hard to complete a task not only fosters integrity and perseverance, but also patience. Perseverance and patience is especially useful when the waiting proves to be longer than expected. When we encourage our children to see a task through to the end, even when it becomes difficult, we help cultivate in them the amazing fruit of the Spirit that is patience!
This is the key to understanding why patience is a virtue that God desires to see in us. God has perfect reasons for making us wait for things that we think we need now. This is a difficult truth even for adults to accept. We think we know better and tend to reason that our plan in our time frame is best. However, we are not God. And His timing is perfect, always!
Psalm 37:7 begins, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him…” This kind of patience works to strengthen our trust in God. As parents, we have the choice to demonstrate to our children one of two responses in situations that require patience. Option 1: Give into impatience and take matters into our own hands to try and eliminate the waiting. Option 2: We can use the waiting as an opportunity to deepen our relationship with the Lord and to press into Him with our questions and desires through prayer.
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