Patience and Success

Dr. Anthony W. Adams
Dr. Anthony W. Adams

Most people that are successful are usually very passionate about what they are doing.  However, the difficulty that nearly all of these people face has to do with patience.   T. S. Eliot stated, “Teach us to care and not to care. Teach us to sit still.” It is this sitting that we find so egregious.  Leaders, managers, and people that are driven strive for results- but they want them now.  Jesus said, “In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19, KJV).  The soul refers to our intellect and emotions.  When we are impatient we find ourselves anxious, stressed out, and our minds begin to wander down a path that almost always leads to the worst possible outcome.  If we do not find some fortitude to arrest our thoughts we may find ourselves acting on those erroneous conclusions, thereby ruining our opportunities and making our situations and circumstances even worse.  There are three things that we should consider as it relates to patience.  First, leaders should plow in hope.  Second, patience is a reality of leadership.  Third and finally, leaders should be actively engaged while waiting for their harvest.

Leaders should plow in hope.  Paul stated, “Yes for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops” (1Corinthians 9:10, NASB).  This passage is saying that we should labor with the intent and expectation that we will accomplish certain things, and consequently, that we will be rewarded for our hard work.  Ministers sometimes have a difficult time with this.  They feel bad or unspiritual if they desire to be compensated.  Paul is very clear that a minister should be paid.  J. Vernon McGee told this story.   “I heard about a preacher in Kentucky who drove a very fine, beautiful horse, but the preacher himself was a very skinny fellow. One day one of his church officers asked him the question (which had been a matter of discussion), ‘How is it, preacher, that your horse is so fine looking and you are such a skinny fellow?’ The preacher answered, ‘I will tell you. I feed my horse, and you are the ones who feed me’” (1983, pp. 41-42).  My friend do not allow someone to make you feel guilty for receiving compensation for your work. leaders should labor with a vision of what the ultimate outcome will be- and that includes being remunerated for their labor.

Patience is a reality of leadership.  “The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains” (James 5:7, NASB).  This passage teaches us that often leaders expend a great deal of energy and effort to accomplish certain ends.  However, after everything is put in place, the leader must wait for certain events and factors to take place in order for their plans to succeed.  For example, the Lord may have given you a great strategy however, you may need to be patient and wait until the Lord helps you to find the right people to be able to implement.  The point is, patience is an inevitable factor as it relates to leadership.

Leaders should work while they wait. The farmer does not just stand idle while he or she waits for the crops to come in.  This person has sown in hope and therefore spends his or her time preparing for the harvest.  Peter, who knew that he would face martyrdom, while he waited for the harvest of his labor which is eternal life, busied himself with the work of the kingdom.  “I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me” (2 Peter 1:13-14, NASB, emphasis mine).   The important point is the leader should work while they wait. Strive to improve and prepare for the harvest of your labor.  Busying yourself will not only help you to overcome impatience but it will also help your organization or church to be prepared for the implementation of your strategy.

I will leave you with this thought.  The right train of thought can take you to a better station in life.  “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7, NASB).

Question: What is the difference between being patient and being idle? 


McGee, J. V. (1983). Thru the Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.