Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can crush strong opposition.Proverbs 25:15
One of my objectives this year is to set goals based on qualitative metrics and not quantitative ones. It’s proving to be much harder than I thought!
Consider patience. Good leaders are patient. In this age of fast food, 24-hour deliveries, and information at our fingertips, we have forgotten a great virtue—patience. Patience is not a quantity virtue, but a quality virtue. Patience is not an excuse to be lazy or procrastinate, rather it is waiting on God’s timing for the appropriate moment to act. If we want to eat vegetables, we must wait for spring to plant; then we must wait again for autumn to harvest. Timing is a key to success.
In John 8 we read the story of several Jewish leaders bringing an adulterous woman to Jesus to test and challenge him on what should be done with her. They wished to learn if Jesus would uphold the law of Moses requiring an adulterer to be stoned. How did Jesus respond? When questioned, Jesus seemly ignored them as He bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
When under pressure, Jesus takes time to reflect. He is patient. God is not surprised by our problems, so, we should not be either. In business, likewise, there are problems which cannot be solved right away. Sometimes they must mature. Without waiting for the right time, we may add to the problem. We need to allow time for people to process ideas. We need to allow time for change. Good leaders know change is a process which requires patience. Learn the value Patience. Don’t force things too fast or too early causing costly immature reactions.
Stop and reflect. Write with your finger on the ground if need be. It is important to sense the moods of an employee or team member before we give correction or implement change. There is a right time and a wrong time for dealing with a situation.
When we are angry, we should wait (be patient) until we cool off. When my boys would misbehave and make me angry, I was at times tempted to hit them out of anger. But rather than act, I’d tell them to go to their room and come out when they were ready to tell me what they did and to apologize for it. That accomplished two things. One, they had time to review what they had done and hopefully understand why dad was angry with them. And two, it gave me time to get ahold of my emotions and prayerfully ask the Lord what were the best next steps with my son. I practice the same thing in the office with employees who screw up. I tell the employee to go to their desk and think about what they’ve done and the consequences for the business and/or others of their action; and then come to my office when they are ready to discuss what they did.
Quick responses from unprepared hearts only complicate a situation and in the end we all lose. But as the Proverb 16:32 states, It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city. Patience if practiced rightly, will lead all those involved to right solutions.
Whether we are discussing people, processes, or projects, it takes time for things to develop. Good leaders know when to push and when to pull. They remember that leadership is leading people— getting people to see what they see. Leadership involves teaching people how, when and why they want to get where we are going. Our expectations should be based on our training and development of people. Training and development of people takes time. God will inspire someone with a solution if we wait and pray.
The next time you are hasty or pushy, stop and practice a little patience—bend over and take a minute to write in the dirt with your finger. You’ll be wiser and more appreciated.