Some say it’s the worst thing to pray for.
If you ask God for patience, he’ll help you learn it the hard way – the only way.
I heard about a young father in a supermarket pushing a shopping cart topped off with a carrier and his screaming baby boy. He was repeating softly, “Keep calm, Thomas. Don’t get excited, Thomas. Don’t yell, Thomas.”
A lady watched with admiration and then said, “I must commend your patience in trying to quiet little Thomas.”
To which he replied, “Lady – I’m Thomas.”
How do we model and teach patience to our children?
This month we’re looking at how we can live out God’s kind of love: Love is patient and kind … Love does not demand its own way (1 Cor.13:4,5).
Patience is in short supply in our day of instant access, drive-through service, easy credit, short-term commitments, disposable marriages, entitled teens, and spoiled children.
Many parents think that loving their kids means letting them express themselves freely, have what they want, do what they want, and learn for themselves.
My wife and I are enjoying having our daughter, Carissa, and son-in-law, Matt, and their two kids live with us while they build their next house.
Carissa and Matt are excellent parents, but our grandkids are normal, rambunctious preschoolers.
Kaitlyn is 4, Zach is 2, and as cute as they are, they could be the next generation of Stanley Cup rioters, or worse, international terrorists, if we don’t guide them toward maturity.
If left unattended (yes, I’ve done this), our family room can look like a war zone in a matter of minutes.
One way my kids teach their kids patience is through delayed gratification: you can have your fruit snack after you clean up your toys, or go to Chuck E. Cheese’s when you help mommy with the laundry.
As they get older, the delays can be longer: we can buy those shoes you want after you’ve weeded the garden, or we’ll pay half of your first used car when you’ve saved up the other half with a part-time job.
Kindness can be learned through lessons in sharing.
Carissa used to divide one pack of fruit snacks equally between both kids, but now she has Katie divide them herself.
Sometimes, she’ll even ask Zach to share with Katie, with less predictable results.
On those rare occasions when they give the other sibling more, Carissa will reinforce their kindness with praise.
This subtle change has transformed the way they play, work, and eat with each other and their preschool buddies.
Finally, Carissa and Matt model patience and kindness with each other.
Values are caught, not just taught.
We can make a difference in the generations to come by providing them with positive examples to follow.
So go ahead and pray for patience, then watch for the opportunities to put your prayer into practice.
Rob Buzza is lead pastor at NorthRidge Church.