Friday, September 30, 2016

Leaders and impatience

I will admit it. By nature, I am not a patient person. I don't shop; I go buy things and leave, and I get all knotted up inside when I get behind a shopper slowly walking down the aisle, leaning on his cart while talking on the phone. I think microwaves take too long. I want my check on the table as soon as I take my last bite at the restaurant. When I'm busy with a project the last thing I want is a phone call from someone who takes forever to go into great detail about something I'm not particularly interested in. The good news is I'm better than I was. The bad news is I still have a long way to go!

Although it took a few years I finally learned that anything worthwhile that happens in a church will usually take much longer than it should have taken. I've read that it takes up to five years for a new idea to become part of the DNA of a congregation. Until that time the congregation will always feel a tug to go back to doing things the way they used to. Church leaders should never underestimate that pull because if they let down their guard momentarily they will find the change has been abandoned and things have returned to the status quo.

I've also learned that people don't move as quickly as I do, and I'm not talking about just through stores. In every church you will have early adapters, but you will also have some who need time to process new ideas. If you do not give the latter group the time they need you are likely to meet resistance. It's more important to get their ownership of the idea than to rush forward and have to deal with the resistance.

Some pastors get into trouble in their churches due to their unwillingness to go through proper channels. Being impatient to implement their new idea they do so without referring it to the board or team that might have oversight in that area of ministry. Sometimes the new idea works well, but the pastor loses the confidence of people in the process. Long-term, that is not a good trade-off for the pastor or the church.

The one thing that has helped me become a more patient person is remembering how patient God is with me. He pursued me a long time before I finally gave my life to Him. I have failed Him many times since becoming a Christian, but He is always quick to forgive. I can be stubborn and want to go my own way, but He is there is gently lead me back to the right path. When I think how patient God has been with me I am able to be more patient with others. The good news is that I have learned that being patient brings far greater success in everything I do than impatience.

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