I am not a particularly patient person. I’m an activist, I like to make things happen. I am not very good at waiting around for other people to make things happen. So it’s kind of ironic that my two current pastimes - homebrewing and Christian publishing - both require a lot of patience.
I won’t say much about the first, because, well, Japan missionary and all that, and because that’s just impatience with things - waiting for things to mature - which is not really that much of a problem. The impatience that I have when publishing is impatience with people, and that’s deadly.
There is an awful lot of waiting around in publishing - waiting for authors to finish writing, waiting for reviewers to finish reviewing, waiting for printers to finish printing. Sarah Bolme says, quite rightly, that selling books is more like a marathon than a sprint. Let’s face it, I’m already on the first mile and I’m finding the mental battle hard going. I want things to happen faster.
In our church we often grapple with the question of what it means to live a distinctly different Christian life. What would being counter-cultural look like? I’ve felt very convicted this week about my own impatience. I think patience, like wisdom, is a value that we’ve largely lost. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that lack of patience is seen as a virtue in our society. We expect everything to happen on Internet time. Faster than Internet time, in fact, because if you can’t wait for that download, you should get a faster provider. Can’t wait for a meal? Get fast food. Get a faster car. Get faster friends. Get a faster life.
And that’s the problem with impatience, right there. It is pride: it is expecting everyone else to live their lives to your own pace. It harms relationships by treating time as more precious than people. Kosuke Koyama says that love is slow, and that God travels at three miles an hour because He slows down to walk with us.
If we want to live a distinctively counter-cultural life, we would do well to start by rediscovering that fruit of the Spirit that is patience, and God knows, I need to start with myself.