Tag: patience (page 1 of 2)

When People Frustrate Us

You’re frustrated. The conversation goes horribly. Tardiness becomes the norm. A person nitpicks our actions. You and I have a list of what frustrates us.

Frustration raises the levels of our emotions and defenses. In the heat of the moment, some of us want to retaliate. Others of us avoid the situation while slowly seething with anger. Some of us utilize passive aggressiveness.

Proverbs 14:29 says, “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” The key to overcoming frustration is seeing the big picture. Patience invites us to realize the grace God has given us and therefore have the wisdom to respond well to the other person.

Today, you might get frustrated with a person. Ask yourself these four questions before you take any actions:

1. What’s my preference vs. problem?

It’s important to categorize our frustration. Preferences emphasize opinions. Problems deal in terms of facts and guidelines. When our preferences get mixed up with problems, we focus on how we want to change the person to fit our needs rather than helping them mature.

2. What’s my role vs. theirs?

Often, our frustration comes from a lack of communication. We have not shared our expectations. Frustration causes us to assign motivation to a person with them filling in the blanks. Deciphering our roles helps us honestly assess the situation clearly.

3. Where are they on their journey of growth?

Our frustration with people can cause us to forget their growth. A person may have come a long way on an issue, but they have triggered us to forget. Subjective grace overlooks issues that do not bother us, but can magnify the ones that do. The conflicts we have with people may not adequately understand their journey.

4. How ready is the person to hear what I have to say?

We play over and over in our mind the conversation we would love to have. You could have the perfect argument to the person in their place. If our frustration causes us to confront, then the person may miss what we have to say. Ultimately, this has to do with trust. Can the person see that you are invested in the well-being of their lives to hear you?

When you get frustrated with a person, take a moment to pause and see the situation. Asking one of these questions could make the difference in how you approach the person. What other insights have helped you when you get frustrated with others?

Photo credit by Josue Bieri.

Just a Little More

“Don’t wear your cleats to practice. Bring your running shoes.” Coach Jamie, my high school soccer coach, would announce these dreaded words. It signified what he lovingly termed, “Conditioning Practice.” As opposed to a regular practice, these practices meant running and sprinting. Followed by more running and sprinting. A few ab workouts and pushups rounded out our session in the humid August weather of Upstate New York.

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We loathed these practices. Coach would press us to compete against ourselves, putting in just a little more effort and energy every drill. By the end of practice, each of us had experienced a small degree of satisfaction in making it through this conditioning. When the humid August sun turned into the cool October breeze, our team could run with any opponent we face.

Grace reminds me of conditioning practice. The moment we think we have sufficiently exercised grace, we find ourselves in relationships and circumstances that need just a little more than we thought.

Consider what Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:41, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” It’s as if Jesus says, “Just when you thought you gave enough, double it.” Not necessarily the Bible verse we stitch onto pillows or make into bumper stickers.

Jesus calls to exercise an unnatural amount of grace. We do not extend it by sheer willpower or gritty determination. It comes from experiencing the forgiveness and acceptance that He has given us. The more we realize the grace we have received through Christ, the more we can come to extend it to others, even when it’s a little more than we think.

So today, you might encounter opportunities to offer a little more grace…
Listening to a person who needs five more minutes in a conversation.
Answering ten more additional questions.
Waiting fifteen more minutes than you would like.
Perhaps, even walking a literal extra mile.

Grace like conditioning practice prepares us to offer more each opportunity with the realization that Christ has given us infinitely more than we can ever think or imagine.

Who will you extend a little more grace today?

Photo credit by Christian Widell.

When Conflicts Turn

Gridlock materializes in conflict when two parties cannot find common ground. People stubbornly stand in their spot or even move farther apart. Often, seemingly unassuming issues become enormous challenges because people cannot make progress towards each other in a disagreement.

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As I look back at the conflicts in my life, I notice a reoccurring theme. Conflicts turned the moment I moved from rationalizing my rightness of position to moving towards understanding the other person. It took stepping into their perspective and relinquishing a need to defend my point of view.

90% of conflict is understanding the other person, and 10% is about being right and wrong.

In the heat of the argument, we want validation of our correctness. Two immovable people in the midst of a disagreement trying to find a resolution results in gridlock. Both vying to win the debate as opposed to finding common ground.

How can we turn conflict from being right and wrong to understanding each other? Here are a few ideas to consider.

1. Listen without Interruptions.

Nothing raises the level of contention than not letting a person finish their thought. You can see the escalation of frustrations like presidential candidates raising their voices for airtime in a debate. Listening can calm a situation. It allows a person to speak their mind. Then they can sense the value of you attempting to understand.

2. Play it back.

A phrase I often hear from my wife and appreciate her saying is, “So what I think I hear you saying is…” That means you have not only listened to the information, but you have processed what a person said into understanding. You have attempted to play back what they have told you.

3. Stop using “But.”

The word “but” negates. You can play back everything to a person, then using “but” signals your view is coming. We know the feeling of hearing an apology with, “I’m sorry, but…” Instead, wait to interject your perspective until the person has felt heard.

4. Use patience.

We want to resolve conflict quickly, but it may take more time than you think. In understanding the person, you may want to take the time to respond with your perspective. A person just sharing their frustration might not be ready to hear the other side. Pray with each other asking for God’s help. Then set up a follow-up time.

The way we handle conflict reveals to how we understand the Gospel in our lives and grace of Jesus. Consider 1 Peter 3:8-9:

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

How have you learned to turn conflict by understanding the other person? Share in the comment section below.

Photo credit by Tomohiko Nogi.

Rough Edges

Certain relationships change us. These friends, family members, significant others, and coworkers cause us to have perspective. In a merciful way, they tell us the truth that few will while still encouraging us. By observing how they relate to us, we become better at relating to others. They help us smooth out our rough edges.

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The rough edges represent the areas of our lives that Christ’s grace has work to smooth. The times we want to get even rather than forgiveness. It becomes present at our stubbornness. In conversation, we try to win the argument as opposed to hearing what the other person.

Rough edges remind us of the tension we live in of the old self and new self. Seeing the characteristics of Christ in us; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. Recognizing the work God still has to do in us.

So He brings people into our lives to speak the truth in love. Scripture invites to reflect on our hearts and actions. In the midst of prayer, taking the time to confess to God and even others those areas where we have fallen short.

My wife Robyn has become a person who has helped me smooth the rough edges in my life. Over the years, I have noticed the small transformations from her influence; moving from interrupting to listening, seeing conflicts from both sides, and responding with kindness rather than reacting in frustration.

Allowing God to smooth the rough edges means having more attentiveness to our lives. Seeing how people relate to us and observing how we handle challenges. Then His grace motivates us to change.

It feels like the tedious work of sanding or buffing. Gradually, our rough edges become the places where people experience Christ’s presence.

What rough edges in your life will God’s grace have to smooth? Who has God placed in your life to help you grow?

Photo credit by Mike Kenneally.

Longsuffering

Growing up, I had the challenge of memorizing from the King James Version (KJV). The Old English full of “thees” and “thous” would stump my recitation. Imagine a grade school student struggling through Shakespeare like verbiage.

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One word made a little more sense to me as a kid in the KJV rather than the modern language; longsuffering. It described the prolonged amount of waiting adults asked of me. It looked like putting up with the annoyances of friends and siblings.

The KJV uses it on the list of the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 and Ephesians 4:2 uses it to describe our relationship with each other. Longsuffering relates to patience, tolerance, and forbearance for one another. Ultimately, it describes how God has given us grace.

We can become apt to want to change people. We critique without tact. Our impatience with others happens more than we would like to believe. Rather than responding in love, we react with frustration and anger. We can get fixated on other’s faults.

Longsuffering brings us to the Gospel. Christ has given us grace through his life, death, and resurrection. He calls us to extend the love He has given us to others. He loves us as we are and not a future version of ourselves.

In community, you and I experience the best and worst of each other. Every once in a while, we need to step back to ask Christ to give us the grace to see others as He sees them. Then we can begin to move towards longsuffering by…
Recognize how Christ’s presence in their lives.
Consider their gifts and strengths.
Support and celebrate when they take steps of growth.
Listen more without too quickly offering feedback.

As an adult, longsuffering has become less about my burden of patience and more about the realization of Christ’s grace given to me and extending it to others.

Who has Christ called you to act with longsuffering? How can you offer them grace that He has extended to you?

Photo credit by Samantha Sophia.

Slow Down

How do you navigate conversations with a large group of people? Early in our marriage, I realized my wife Robyn, and I had different approaches. She would engage one person at a time offering them her undivided attention. I tended to move from person to person five minutes at a time. What I began to notice, people left discussions with my wife feeling a sense of significance and value.

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The way my wife engages conversations has a lot to do with the way she lives life. Unlike me, who either rushes 60 miles an hour or sleeps, Robyn takes her time, especially with people. She challenges me to slow down.

That means giving more time to people even when the conversation seems to go nowhere particular. Sometimes it means holding a question or comment back so a person can finish their story. Lots of time, it means being okay with silence because others might need a little more time to gather their thoughts.

We live in a time when we run towards the next best thing. Many people throw their energy into an activity without the patience to finish. I think we sometimes do this to people. If they don’t move fast enough for us, then we don’t take the time to get to know them. Instead of investing in deep relationships, we can find ourselves with a thousand acquaintances.

The Gospels record a fascinating aspect of Jesus. These writers record Jesus meeting with individuals. Often, the disciples think Jesus does not have time to talk with these people, yet He slows down for them. You can see Him with Nicodemus, the women at the well, stopping with blind Bartimaeus. The Pharisees have a conniption because Jesus has dinner with two tax collectors: Matthew and Zacchaeus.

Slowing down for others means recognizing the image of God in them. The practice of staying longer reminds us that often we can wait, and people take precedence in the view of Jesus. Grace causes us to recognize the patience of God in us so that we might give time to others.

Who will you slow down for others today?

Photo credit by Samuel Zeller.

A Prayer for Healthy Ambition

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We fear the label ordinary.
It seems that every voice tells us to pursue greatness.
Discover the dream and journey towards success.
Along the way, we find that our definitions of dreams and success differ from Yours.

We weary ourselves for the label extraordinary.
You see the extra hours we log for perfection.
You know the anxiety of all our presentations.
You hear us tell ourselves about the things other than You to make us matter.

Jesus, infuse in our hearts healthy ambition.
Teach how to live with excellence in worship.
May our ambition start with what You have done in us before what happens outside of us.
Release us from masquerading strength, so that we might find grace in our weaknesses.

Also, we confess that we have not always prioritized ambition rightly.
Let us start by making an ambition to become more like You in word and deed.
Provide us with the ambition to give grace to those closest to us.
Renew our hearts and minds with Your definition of greatness.
Replace the lies of unhealthy ambition with the truth of the Gospel.

Our ultimate worth and security comes from knowing You, not from personal accomplishments.
Thank You for the patience You have offered to us and the grace You have bestowed on us.

Amen

Photo credit by Xeromatic

The Front Porch

I grew up in the Italian section of Endicott, NY. You could smell the garlic and sauce cooking miles away. If you walked the blocks of the neighborhood, you would see the various front porches. Each neighbor had their chair or rocker with a distinct creak. As a kid, I would ride my bike around the block and wave to my neighbors.

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Waving to my neighbors on their porches taught me about experiencing community. Every once in a while we would strike up a conversation about the Yankees, cars, and the old stories of IBM, which started in Endicott. Front porches provided space for neighbors to get to know each other.

Joseph R. Myers in the Search to Belong devotes a whole chapter to “Searching for the Front Porch.” He comments, “I wish for a front porch. I am not alone. In our time people have a hunger for a significant ‘median space.'” Myers describes the front porch as providing space between the public and intimate.

When people look to belong, they look for a safe and neutral place to get to know others at their pace. Some of us feel lonely and long for such places. Others of us would like to include more people, but do not always know how to create the space to meet with people.

The New Testament gives us glimpses Jesus meeting the woman at the well, meeting a blind man on a roadside, and his greatest sermon happened on a mountain to a synagogue. These snapshots of Jesus as someone who found the front porches. He invited people to know him rather than forcing relationships to happen.

Where are the front porches today? Go to any local coffee shop, Starbucks, Panera or diner. You can find the median spaces in lobbies, atriums, and parks.

Living out the Gospel in community means creating space for others. Inviting them to get to know you with no agenda. Learning to listen to them as they share their story. Remembering their name time after time. Grace motivates us to help them sense God’s presence in a way they can receive.

We look for and create front porches to help people belong as God intended them.

What memories do you have of front porches? What spaces have you considered “front porches” today?

Photo credit to Logan Adermatt

A Six Play Faith

Remember the Titans ranks high on any list of sport’s movies. At the beginning of the film, the team loads the bus heading to Gettysburg for training camp. Head Coach Herman Boone, played by Denzel Washington, hand his offensive coaches the rather thin playbook. He responds to their comment on the playbook by saying, “I run six plays, split veer. It’s like Novocain. Just give it time, it always works.”

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Simplifying the playbook and remaining disciplined to six plays can sound old-fashioned and monotonous. We have a difficult time with commitment. Some of us would rather run to a new idea as opposed to completing the path before us. We self-diagnose ourselves with ADD.

Maybe part of growing faith means sticking to six plays rather than adding more. What do we miss when we run from idea to idea; small group to small group; book to book; practice to practice? Our impatience can lead us to miss out on growth we might have experienced.

Eugene Peterson in the Long Obedience in the Same Direction makes this observation:

We survive in the way of faith not because we have extraordinary stamina but because God is righteous, because God sticks with us. Christian Discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less attention on our own; finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives and morals but by believing in God’s will and purposes; making a map of the faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our enthusiasm. It is out of such reality that we acquire perseverance (pg. 133)

I wonder if sometimes God invites us to experience growth in a far less complicated way. At the heart of growing in faith, may not come from increasing a to-do list or additional act but from releasing our focus on ourselves to recognize God at work.

The grace you may need to grow may have more to do with sticking with a thinner playbook. We fill out schedules. We add more books to the list. We jump to the next event. Thinking that our effort alone will manufacture faith. We miss the slow, patient, stick-to-it grace offered to us by Jesus.

All throughout the Scripture we notice growth in the picture of crops and trees because God grows us through a process so that we might know Him; planting, watering, growing, harvest. We respond to His work in our lives. He invites us to a thinner playbook to grow.

How might God call you to simplify your life to recognize Him?

Life Lessons from a French Press

The daily routines of life can teach us. Frederick Buechner famously said, “Listen to your life…” Our mundane tasks might indicate to us more than we think. Often, it simply takes time to stop and recognize these lessons.

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Part of my daily routine includes a cup of coffee; well, multiple cups of coffee in the morning. I started seriously using a French press last year. Listening to our lives involves reflecting on our routines. We begin to sense lessons God teaches in the midst of the commonplace.

During the last week, I have stopped to take notice of what I can learn from making coffee with a French press in the morning. Here are five lessons:

1. Take Intentional Steps.

Prior to making coffee in the morning, I went to Starbucks everyday. Dave Ramsey’s budget would lessen these daily trips to save cash. Making coffee at home means getting up a little earlier. A French press involves the right water temperature, exact ground texture and proper wait time before pressing. Every little detail matters.

Dallas Willard often said, “Grace is not opposed to effort, but to earning.” Sometimes, I think we want growth by osmosis. Spiritual, physical, emotional and relational growth comes from taking intentional steps. We begin to see how God transforms our smallest steps. Grace invites to the small beginnings.

2. Fully Engage in One Activity.

Efficiency has become a heightened value of the decade. How quick can I finish a task? Is it possible to multi-task? I have a hard time starting the water to boil and grounding the coffee beans at the same time. French pressing coffee keeps you focused on each element; water, grounds and wait time. The times when I try to accomplish other tasks, I can taste it in the coffee.

What if we lived engaged in one thing at a time? Think of the meaningfulness of our conversations. When we slow down in the simplest steps, we usually do not miss the little details. The people around us might benefit the most from our full attention and engagement.

3. Disconnect from Screens.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz wrote the Barna Frame Greater Expectations. As one of the first employees of Twitter and now a renowned blogger, she implore readers to disconnect from screens especially in the morning. Without even thinking we check our phone notifications first. A morning routine devoid of screens offers an opportunity to listen to our life by prayer, reading, and expressing our feelings.

French pressing has taught me to leave the phone out of the room. Each morning allots us the time to focus on the simple joys, like a a fresh cup of French press coffee.

4. Appreciate the Roasters.

Two friends, Zach Smith and Dan Desosiers, roast their own coffee. Roasting coffee involves time and attention. Having the right roast pressed gives a fresher taste. I find myself becoming more grateful for this daily experience. Along the way people have given us time and attention. Whether our cup of coffee tastes fresher or we find life giving friendships, let’s learn how to appreciate the important people in our lives.

5. Finding Joy in Rhythm.

Saying “yes” to a pot of French press coffee means saying “no” to another task. I have found myself clarifying the important rhythms of life. Maybe the tasks we thought mattered, really break our rhythm. By committing to the rhythm of a day, we might find a more life giving pace. A little task like French pressing reminds us to slow down, rather than rushing through the day.

Take time to listen to your life. You might begin to see lessons you can learn from the simplest tasks. What have you learned from your mundane tasks? What is your experience in French pressing?

Photo credit Chris Mason Design.

 

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