I am an impatient person by nature. Can you relate? I despise waiting in line, I hate the three-day waiting period, and being stuck in traffic elevates my stress levels. The temptation for people like me, and I suppose many others, is to take shortcuts to accomplish our goals. I want things to move faster, people to change quicker, problems to be resolved in an instant.
Inventors are coming up constantly with new contraptions to make our life easier. Awhile back I read a study done decades ago, which projected that in the 1980s, people would work fewer hours, have more free time, and have an easier life because of all the coming time-saving inventions. The exact opposite has happened! Even with all our advances, we are still looking for less complicated lives but find disappointment instead.
There is a direct connection between impatience and taking shortcuts, for taking shortcuts is the external manifestation of an internal reality. A biblical principle that has helped me deal with my impatience is this:
You can’t do much to accelerate God’s blessing, but you can do a lot to delay it.
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The Bible speaks about “the appointed time” and “a time and a season for everything.” Timing is everything as we deal with spiritual issues. One of the clearest examples of this principle is the journey that the people of Israel took from Egypt to the Promised Land. A reading of the last chapters of Genesis as well as the book of Exodus will show the danger of impatience. A journey that should have taken days took decades. Why? Impatience and a bad attitude. Every time the Israelites said, “We don’t like our leaders,” God said, “One more time around the desert.” Every time they complained about the water, the food, or anything else, God said, “One more time.” The truth is that one of the fastest ways to delay your blessing is a bad attitude. It makes us say things like
- Why couldn’t I have married her/him?
- Why won’t God bless me?
- Why don’t my kids behave like those children?
- How come he’s in that position and I am not?
- Why did she get married and I’m still single? I mean God, have you seen her?
You know how God responds? “One more time . . .” If your life seems to be stuck in the desert, and you are moving but not really going anywhere, one of the first things to check would be your attitude. If your attitude is one of impatience, a correction needs to be made immediately. Don’t get me wrong. There are times when we must act decisively, when we must go forward in Jesus’ name. But a lot of damage has been done because
- we moved ahead without godly consensus
- we left before it was time
- we started a project without God’s blessing.
Don’t confuse activity with progress. We confuse movement with advance, action with success, and program implementation with personal growth. The question is not whether we have things going on, but if God is leading.
I have seen people fail in three areas because of impatience and shortcuts:
1. Relationships. Loneliness can mess with your mind. I understand it’s tough to see all your friends getting married while you are still single. But rushing into a relationship can be devastating. If you feel lonely, get a dog. Don’t rush into love.
2. Finances. There is no such thing as a get-rich-quick strategy. In fact, a study of lottery winners demonstrated that many were left without a penny only a short time after winning millions. Trying to invest in pyramid schemes, or lacking research before beginning a financial venture, can leave you penniless and distraught.
3. Moving. Later on I’ll go into more detail about the desire that some have to leave a situation every time things get a little rough. For now, let me just say that the temptation to flee is a real one, especially when things aren’t going so great. Be careful that you are not running from what seems like an external situation, when in fact the problem might be internal. No matter where you run, an internal problem will follow you there.
Only God’s power can sustain you for the long haul, so be patient.
Underneath impatience lies a desire for control. The reason we take shortcuts and end up failing is that we think we know best. The truth is, we don’t. Relinquish everything to God.
In your life there are things that
- you will never change—leave those alone.
- will change slowly—have patience.
- need changing now—have courage.
The key is to have the divine gift of discernment, to know which is which.
I like to work around the house. I like to repair, rebuild, restore, demolish, rearrange—you know, your weekend-warrior type of remodeling. There’s only one problem. I’m not good at it. If I had to earn a living as a handyman, I would die of hunger. That’s the reason I invite my brother-in-law to come work with me in my “projects.” After all, I introduced him to his wife, so he owes me. He is really good at remodeling. You could say he was born with a hammer in his hand and probably remodeled his own crib. He is very detail oriented (I’m not), likes to take his time (I don’t), and doesn’t take shortcuts (I do). One of my favorite expressions I say to try and get him to work faster is “You can’t see that detail from a helicopter.” He just ignores me and continues to work. When it’s all done and I look at the finished product, I’m glad we took our time. A couple of times, however, we’ve done it my way, and some sections of my house are a constant reminder of the fallacy of shortcuts. In life, as in construction, it’s better to measure twice and cut once.
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