by Shannon Caughey
In the context of coaching and life, sometimes it feels like things are moving too fast. You don’t have enough time to get everything done that needs to be done. At other times, things seem to unfold too slowly. Maybe the wins aren’t coming as quickly as you thought they would. Perhaps your team is not improving at quite the pace you want. Or it could be that a particular athlete that you’d hoped would display more maturity by now is still making poor decisions and engaging in immature behavior.
“Patience is a virtue” – but it’s certainly not easy in many coaching situations. It can also be challenging to remain patient in other areas of life. We’re not alone in this struggle to exercise patience. The Apostle Paul’s prayer for followers of Christ who lived in Colossae resonates with us: “We also pray that you will be strengthened with all [God’s] glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need” (Colossians 1:11).
In the original Greek language of the New Testament, the word for patience in this verse could be translated “long-suffering.” Whatever the area of life, the need for patience can feel painful! It’s not easy to be patient. But the solution is not to just try harder to conjure up patience from within us. Instead we look to God in dependence, as Colossians 1:11 guides us. In Romans 2:4, Paul gives this reminder: “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you?” Because God is so wonderfully patient with us, we can trust him to graciously enable us to patiently endure challenging situations as we rely upon him.
A key aspect of God’s empowering to have patience and endurance is this: we’re able to wait patiently upon God for his work in our circumstances. The Bible talks multiple times about “waiting upon God.” In The Practice of Godliness, author Jerry Bridges defines waiting upon the Lord as trusting the outworking of God’s timetable in our lives. It’s believing that our all-knowing, all-wise, and all-powerful God knows what is best and will do what is best at the time that is best.
Again, this is not easy. But there is great reward as you patiently wait upon God in difficult situations, including with challenging people you relate to or coach. Be encouraged as the psalmist speaks from his experience: “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:1-3).
Patience is more than a virtue. It’s a key to opening the door to experiencing God’s greater work in you and through you. You will continue to encounter situations – whether as a coach or in other areas of life – in which things seem to unfold too slowly. In those times, look to the Lord for his power to be patient. Keep trusting him and waiting patiently upon him.
For reflection: Share honestly with the Lord the ways you’re struggling to be patient. Ask him for his power to continue to walk through these situations with patient endurance. Praise God for his gracious work and his trustworthiness.