By Katie Pearson
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Timothy 4:1-4
When it comes to using Scripture to confront false teaching or correct ungodly beliefs and behavior, maturity is essential. Godly character is an absolute necessity if our instruction is to have value. Paul cites patience as a virtue that servant leaders in Christ must possess in increasing measure, because if we aren’t able to demonstrate Christ in us when things get heated, we lose all credibility.
We all have a vision of what it looks like to practice patience. Most of our examples revolve around a short-lived experience—like being held up from a meeting by a phone call from a needy friend or getting stuck in traffic with cranky, hungry kids. However, the biblical definition of patience takes the long view. It is defined as longsuffering and persevering until the end, regardless of the circumstances (Holman Bible Dictionary). Only God’s power operating in us could ensure this level of endurance.
That’s why Galatians 5:22 calls patience a fruit of the Spirit. We are completely reliant on God to exercise self-control rooted in love in situations that might never resolve. In Ephesians, Paul includes patience in a list of godly characteristics that leaders are to develop through spiritual reformation in Christ: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1–3).
What tries your patience in ministry leadership? Perhaps it isn’t a person but something else that inhibits you, like a chronic illness or lack of resources. Or you have an unbelieving spouse, critical co-worker, or job with no opportunity for advancement. Life tries our patience, but ministry requires us to cultivate patience. With God’s help, we can. Scripture describes the holy patience of Jesus for us. Jesus demonstrated a holy level of patience for us through his life, death, and resurrection. God is still longsuffering with us today and teaches us patience through his Word and Spirit. Knowing this helps me be patient with others and with myself.
Reflection: How do you need to better prepare your mind and your heart? Where do you need more patience? Are you in awe of the patience demonstrated by Jesus for and with us? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Prayer Response: Lord Jesus, I confess that I am less patient than I thought, and I can never be patient enough to reflect your love without the power of your Spirit working in my heart. No amount of willpower can transform me into your likeness, only surrender to your Spirit and Lordship. Thank you for being infinitely patient with me. Remind me of your example as I steward the callings you have given me. Amen.
Could you use some hope right now? Join Peter’s first audience—“elect exiles” undergoing persecution—and experience the apostle’s powerful call to follow Jesus in the midst of life’s challenges, knowing your Living Hope is not a distant one, but a daily, glorious, life-giving reality! This unique six-week small group Bible study, A Living Hope: A Study of 1 Peter, helps you uncover the priceless promises written specifically to the struggling and the hurting, with pastoral gentleness and bold confidence for the future. This study of 1 Peter will help you become utterly convinced that Jesus is the only sure, true, incorruptible, and permanent hope for you.
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