Do you lose your temper quickly?
When you’re caught in traffic, do you lose your cool?
Do you have shouting matches with your spouse?
Do you yell at your kids often?
Do you use degrading language?
Do you not speak to people you’re angry with for days, weeks, or even months?
If your answer is “Yes” to some of these questions, then you have a problem with patience. And you need to hear what I’m going to say today.
Here’s my big message for you today: Impatience means you lack trust in God. Many times, you’re impatient because you take matters in your hands. If you want to be patient, learn to take matters into God’s hands. (If you don’t understand this yet, it’s okay. By the end of this article, you will.)
Let me tell you about two men who were blowing their top…
Two Very Angry Brothers
I love this very human story.
Jesus was being rejected by a Samaritan Town. And James and John were so angry at them, they asked, Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them? (See Luke 9:52-56)
James and John were so angry, they wanted to massacre an entire town. They wanted to kill men, women, and children. Including cute babies. Fry them all to a crisp.
In the brothers’ minds, it was their right to be angry. To them, this was righteous anger. Why? These Samaritans were making the most horrendous mistake of their lives. They were rejecting Jesus, the Son of the Living God.
So they said, “Kill ‘em, Lord!”
Here’s an important point: An angry person always thinks it’s his right that he should get angry. In his mind, it’s perfectly justifiable.
But what did Jesus do?
He rebuked them.
Perhaps he said to them, “Look guys, once upon a time, you were hard-headed too. You were as obstinate and foolish as they were. But God didn’t throw fiery comets at you. He was patient with you. You should do the same.”
Where Does Your Impatience Come From?
Let me tell you another story.
One day, a husband and wife were at home eating breakfast.
Right in front of the wife was their window, and through it, she could see her neighbor hanging clothes in the clothesline.
“Look at those clothes! Their dirty!” she told her husband. “Does she even use detergent? My goodness.”
The next day, as they sat at the table eating breakfast, she saw the same scene again. She said, “I can’t believe how dirty those clothes are. Someone has to teach that woman how to do the laundry!”
And for the next few days, she kept criticizing her neighbor.
But after a month, as they ate breakfast, she looked through the window and was surprised to see very white, clean clothes. “It’s a miracle!” the wife told her husband, “Our neighbor finally learned how to wash clothes!”
The husband smiled. “Not really. Finally, this morning, I cleaned our windows…”
Patience is not an external problem.
Patience is always an internal problem.
Circumstances don’t cause your impatience. Traffic doesn’t cause your impatience. Your unruly child doesn’t cause your impatience.
You cause your impatience.
You need to wash your windows.
Where Does Your Impatience Come From?
Impatience comes from your desire to control things that you have no control over.
James and John wanted to control the Samaritans. When they couldn’t, they got angry.
When you tell little Junior, “Take a bath!” and he dillydallies, you get impatient because you’re not in control.
When a mammoth traffic builds up, you get impatient because you’re not in control.
When the lines in the mall are extra long, you get impatient because you’re not in control.
Don’t get me wrong. The desire to control, by itself, isn’t bad. God gave you the power to control a few things. For example, parents need to be in control of their home. And managers need to control their companies.
You just need to know the difference between what you can control and what you can’t…
What Do You Control?
There are two Areas in your life: The Area of Control and the Area of Concern. You need to know the difference.
Your Area of Control is very small compared to your Area of Concern. At the end of the day, you can only control one thing: Yourself.
Many times, you can’t control the stimuli around you. But you control your response to that stimuli.
Stephen Covey says that between stimuli and response, there’s a gap. That gap is your power.
Here’s one example.
What’s Your Response To People’s Faults?
Question: Are you surrounded by people who have faults?
If you are, then you need to listen to this verse from the Bible: Make allowance for each other’s faults…(Colossians 3:13)
You can’t control people’s faults. But you can control your response to those faults.
How? Expect imperfection. Do this one thing and you’ll remove many of your frustrations. Your relationships will be happier.
Learn to live with the imperfection of people.
Speaking about imperfection, let me share about my marriage…
My Marriage Is Fantastic
I have a fantastic marriage. Not perfect. But fantastic. Reason? My wife and I have accepted each other’s imperfections.
For example, it takes me 5 minutes to get dressed.
But it takes my wife two hours.
In the first three years of our marriage, this fact bothered me so much.
I’d sit in the car, enduring the agony of waiting for her. I’d grip the steering wheel so hard, if it weren’t made of steel, it would have become a pretzel. I’d grit my teeth, muttering to myself, “Why in the world does she take so much time?”
But for ten years now, the situation has totally changed.
Mind you, she didn’t change. She still takes 2 hours to dress.
But I’ve changed. I’ve washed my window. I’ve accepted that as part of marrying a beautiful woman.
So what if we’re a little late? It’s not the end of the world.
Oh yes, I still sit in the car and wait for her. But I no longer endure it. I enjoy it. I enjoy the quiet. When she finally gets in the car, I say, “Hi, gorgeous…”
One more example…
How Do You Respond To Traffic
You can’t control the traffic. (Unless you happen to work as a traffic cop.)
Traffic belongs to your Area of Concern.
What can you control? You can control your response to the traffic. Are you going to blow your top or are you going to enjoy the traffic? That’s up to you.
Call me crazy, but I’ve learned to enjoy traffic. When there’s traffic, I take it as a gift from God to slow me down. To chat with the other passengers. To listen to an inspiring audiotalk. To plan for a project. And if I’m not driving, to catch up on my reading.
If you want to become a patient person, you need to do 3 very important things…
Emergency Steps: Stop, Look, & Listen
If you have problems with your temper, and you feel your anger brewing within you, you want to Stop, Look, and Listen.
Step 1: Stop
Are you about to explode?
Count one to ten.
Count one to ten thousand if necessary.
The important thing is to stop what your anger wants you to do at that precise moment. (I know of a few people who’re in jail now because they obeyed their anger.)
I know stopping isn’t easy. Someone told me it’s like stopping a landslide when the rocks are already falling.
In psychology, they call this a “pattern interrupt”. Do something so unexpected, it’ll short-circuit your brain pattern. Take a walk. Go out and exercise. Slap yourself. Laugh!
Close your eyes, inhale, and breathe in God’s Love.
Visualize you’re in a lovely beach or forest or mountaintop.
Most of all, pray.
That’s what I mean by “Stop”.
Don’t obey your anger. Don’t send that angry email. Don’t send that angry text. Don’t shout that angry word.
Believe me, if you do, you’ll regret it forever.
You’ll Regret Saying Your Angry Words
I read a story of a boy who had a bad temper.
His father told him, “Son, every time you’re angry, get a nail and hammer it on the fence.”
The son did as instructed.
On the first day, he hammered 37 nails on their wooden fence. But as the days went by, he hammered fewer nails each day. He realized it was easier to tame his anger than hammer nails.
Finally, a day came when he didn’t hammer a single nail. The boy went to his father and told him the good news. “Dad, I’m able to control my anger already.”
The father said, “Congratulations son. I’m happy for you. Come, let’s remove the nails from the fence.”
As the son pulled out the last nail from the wooden fence, the father said, “Son, do you see what I see?”
“Nail holes,” the son said, “Lots of them.”
The father looks him in the eye and says, “Son, next time you want to say angry words, remember this fence. Even if you apologize later, angry words leaves a scar in the hearts of people. Even if you’re forgiven, that scar remains for a long time.”
The Bible says, Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19-20)
Here’s the second step…
Step 2: Look
Look for God in the difficult situation.
Specifically, look for God’s Love.
Look for Him loving you at that moment of testing.
Look for His Presence in this irritating situation or annoying person.
One day, my flight to Cebu was delayed for 4 hours.
When the announcement was made over the loud speakers, everyone around me in the airport grumbled loudly. And the complaining didn’t stop. About missed meetings. About lost time. About being stuck in the airport.
Delayed flights aren’t in my Area of Control. It’s in my Area of Concern. And I repeat, anything in my Area of Concern are things I need to entrust to God’s Love. I need to believe that God is doing something behind the scenes, working all things for my good. (Romans 8:28)
So I had a totally different reaction.
I closed my eyes and smiled. I saw God in that situation. In my mind, God was giving me an unexpected 4-hour vacation.
I was like a little kid on Christmas, excited to open a huge gift-wrapped box. I read my book; made new friends; wrote a new article; called up my wife; I even walked around the airport for my daily exercise.
It was a beautiful surprise gift from God.
I loved it so much, when I have a flight today, I sometimes secretly wish it were delayed.
So just in case you have a flight, and it gets delayed, look for me in the airport. (Sorry, my wishes are powerful.)
Finally, the third step…
Step 3: Listen
Listen to God’s instructions.
Ask the big question: What’s the wise thing to do?
Some people think being patient means being passive.
Not true. You can be patient and proactive at the same time.
One day, my friend was in a bank with a very long line. How long? He said he was waiting in the cue for 30 minutes. And all the customers were complaining.
Instead of grumbling like everyone else, my friend responded with action. He looked for the manager, and simply (patiently) asked if she could add tellers.
She actually did. She added two more tellers—and instantly, that one long line became three short lines.
In your Area of Control, you control. But in your Area of Concern, you influence.
How? Through patient action.
Let me give you another example of patient action…
A Word To Parents With Temper Problems
Are you a parent with a short fuse?
Let me guess. So far, your temper has been a disaster. It hasn’t worked. Your anger has failed in training your kids.
You’ve learned that no amount of shouting works.
So here’s my suggestion. Change your strategy.
Let me give you God’s wisdom.
I read Kevin Leman’s book, Have A New Kid By Friday. He gives fantastic advice. Basically, he tells parents not to get angry when kids misbehave.
He explains why…
Children Don’t Listen To Anger,
They Listen To Action
Let me give you an example from Kevin Leman.
4-year old Julio is at the back of the car, throwing a temper tantrum. He screams, “I hate you Mommy!”
Mommy, instead of using anger, uses action.
A few minutes after they arrive home, Julio goes to the kitchen. He looks for his milk and cookies—and it’s not there. At that point, his quiet world is discombobulated. Because kids are creatures of habit. Every afternoon, Mommy always prepares milk and cookies.
So Julio goes to his mother and asks, “Mommy, where are my milk and cookies?”
Very calmly, mommy says, “No milk and cookies today.” She then turns around and walks away. (This step is very important.)
Little Julio runs after her. (Kids always do.) He asks, “Why Mommy? Why? Why? Why?”
This is a teachable moment. This is when he is actually open to what Mommy has to say. She says, “Because I didn’t like what you did in the car. You had a temper tantrum. (Mommy acts it out just to make it clearer to the little guy.) And you said, ‘I hate you, Mommy.’ That hurt me very much.”
By this time, little Julio is bawling, “I’m so sorry Mommy! I won’t do it again.”
Mommy says, “I forgive you, Julio.” She hugs him.
That’s when Julio whimpers, his big eyes filled with giant tears, “Mommy, can I have my milk and cookies now?”
Here’s the secret sauce of this powerful action. Mommy says, “No milk and cookies today. You’ll have it tomorrow.”
Believe me, Julio will never forget the lesson.
Why? Because kids don’t listen to your anger.
They listen to action.
And you only have to do this once or twice. He’ll never throw another temper tantrum again.
Let me end…
Relax And Trust In God’s Love More
I repeat: Impatience comes from lack of trust in God’s Love.
How come? You become impatient because of a desire to control things you have no control over.
But where does this desire to control come from?
Sometimes, it comes from love. A genuine concern for others.
But many times, it comes from fear.
I’ve noticed that many times, subconscious fear is the fuel of our impatience.
And our greatest fear is the fear of worthlessness.
I know that sounds deep.
But it’s really very simple.
Often, the fear of worthlessness causes your impatience.
Let me give you an example.
One day, a mother came up to me and shared to me her total frustration with her daughter. She said, “Her grades are so bad. She spends hours on the phone. And she looks horrible with her black lipstick and black nail polish. Her boyfriend looks like smelly bum. Oh Bo, there’s not a day when I don’t shout at her!”
I asked her this question. “Why are you angry?”
“Because… because she’s not acting right! I mean, what will others say? That I’m not a good mother?”
Aha. There lies the real reason for her rage.
The fear of “what other people will say…”
In other words, it’s the fear of social death.
It’s the fear of worthlessness that’s driving her anger.
That is why, I believe that the ultimate solution to impatience is trusting in God’s Love.
When you know you’re totally, completely, and absolutely loved by God, you know there’s nothing else to prove.
Impatience drains out of your system.
Why was I so angry at my wife because her long preparation time? When I dug deeper, I realized that it was because I was afraid of people telling me, “Bo is late for our meeting. What a terrible example…”
But then the switch came in my heart. When I realized I was totally, completely, and perfectly loved—I knew I was whole. I didn’t need anyone’s good opinion about me to make me whole.
There was nothing to prove. I found I no longer cared about what other said about me. Fear was gone. I began to relax in God’s Love. And my impatience vanished as well.
Because perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).
May your dreams come true,
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