Faith & Patience

If there’s one thing I’ve struggled with as a leader it’s the partnership between faith and patience.

The Apostle Paul appealed to the Jewish people saying,

“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” (Hebrews 6:12 NIV) 

Is it just me, or do you find the balance of faith and patience difficult too?

Paul makes it clear that patience is not the same as laziness because in this verse he warns us against laziness but instead calls us to imitate patience. I’ve seen many people over the years try to pass laziness off as patience or “waiting on the Lord” when in fact they had a mission to accomplish. But patience isn’t simply passive. Patience trusts God and His timing.

Faith and patience are on the same team. I guess I’d unconsciously imagined that they were opposed to each other. Or maybe just alternate paths. Actually faith and patience go hand in hand when you’re following Jesus.

If I’m brutally honest I’ve been more inclined to mix faith and impatience over the years. Somehow they seemed like they went together. I imagined that men of faith were always restless and shot from the hip. It’s the “Ready… Fire… Aim” school of leadership.

But faith and impatience mostly produced terrible fruit for me. Even the right thing at the wrong time is usually not a blessing. God’s timing isn’t always my timing, but it is perfect. Abraham got tired of waiting for the promise of generations to come to pass so he slept with his servant and Ishmael was born (Gen16). Instead of getting God’s best through faith and patience he had a child in his own strength and the angel declared “His hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” 

Sometimes it takes more faith to wait than to go. I easily imagine faith being the one to charge the hill, but sometimes faith is called upon to simply wait and allow God to deliver you. Have you seen the movie Braveheart? I love the scene where William Wallace has secretly made spears to use against the English cavalry. But the trick to using them effectively was the element of surprise. As the horses thundered across the field toward them it took great leadership to keep his men from trying to use the spears too soon, as over and over he just said, “Hold… hold… HOLD”.

The Amplified translation of Heb6:12 adds some depth to our understanding of faith and patience too…

so that you will not be [spiritually] sluggish, but [will instead be] imitators of those who through faith [lean on God with absolute trust and confidence in Him and in His power] and by patient endurance [even when suffering] are [now] inheriting the promises. (Heb6:12 AMP)

Faith is anchored in trust and confidence in God. Patience can endure even through suffering. And when they partner together we inherit the promises of God and experience His best for us!

Perhaps that’s why Eugene Peterson describes discipleship as “A long obedience in the same direction” in his landmark book by that title. In a world of instant gratification it’s good to be reminded that the best things in life are going to take some patience to gain.

What are you believing for that requires both faith and patience?

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