Learning Patience for Lent — Way to GO Valley Ranch Baptist Church!

Yesterday began the season of Lent. In my morning meditations I mulled over what character trait or activity on which to focus my commitment for the coming 40-days.  And then it came to me! 

In addition to my annual giving up of the food and festivities that contribute to my “bad dad bod” 🙂 — this year I sensed God’s nudge to work on my Achilles heel of impatience. 

There I said it. My name is Jim and I struggle with impatience! And this “hurry, hurry, hurry” pace can be exhilarating and even expected in some leadership circles — yet in my experience it can also be exhausting for the body and soul.

True confession. I love personality assessments, and one of my faves is called Strengths Finder. This popular tool has been used by over 20 million people and ranks  an individual’s 34 personality traits or themes, zeroing in on their all important top five “strengths”. If you’re wondering, my top five strengths are empathy, developer, connector, positivity, and activator. I like my strengths and they serve me well in my role as a Community Pastor! 

However, it’s my number five, the activator trait that trips me up. The upside of activators is they are “especially talented in making things happen by turning thoughts into action.” Yeah! But the downside is that they are often impatient. Ugh!

In Aesop’s Fables The Tortoise And The Hare the moral of the story is that “slow and steady wins the race”. In a world of bigger, and better, and always faster — the downside is the malady of impatience — and this runs counter to the Scriptural virtue of patience. 

What I am learning is that patience and persistence is a balancing act. The late Eugene Peterson said as much, a long obedience in the same direction when describing our transformation journey.  

And so comes my impatience inner voice rushing in! How long is long? How long does it take for a tree to bear fruit? How long God? Which brings me to this Lenten season and what I am receiving as a “God nudge” on my infirmity of impatience. 

What’s the odds that twice this past week I bump into two friends and former pastoral colleagues from Valley Ranch Baptist at two different events? Our family updates led into workplace and ministry updates. And they were beaming!

GREAT things are happening at Valley Ranch Baptist Church! They shared about new and diverse faces populating the pews of the church. Individuals and families that reflect the diversity of the surrounding community. And people beginning a faith journey with Jesus. I am truly grateful!

AND YET — in full disclosure my “inner-impatience voice” chided my professional pride a bit. I thought back to 2009 — ten years ago when I helped craft a strategy and directional statement saying:

We currently excel at connecting people of similar faith and life experiences, increasingly want to welcome people who are under-churched or returning to church; many times having experienced life turmoil, AND strongly desire to provide an inclusive environment, that reflects the diversity of our unchurched community and world.”

I still love those words of hope! And though these dreams weren’t fully fruitful in the era I served the church, thanks be to God with persistence and patience — and ten years later good is happening, a long obedience in the same direction!

The Apostle Paul spoke of this virtue of patience in these words ~So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.” – Galatians 6:9

Thanks for your patience Valley Ranch Baptist Church! In an impatient world thanks for being an example to me and others that slow and steady wins the race!

Praying for 40-days of patience,

Jim

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