By Ralph V. Reynolds
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).
Have you tried to help a rose bud unfold into a beautiful rose? You simply cannot wait for nature to take its course. So you unfold each petal one by one. What do you have when you are finished? A pitiful mess! The only thing you have succeeded in doing is destroying what would have been a gorgeous rose. If nature is allowed to take its own time the rose bud will effortlessly unfold into a beautiful bloom bringing pleasure to all who behold.
Have you ever tried to help a chicken out of a shell? Be careful and take your time for otherwise all you will have is a soggy dead chick in your hands.
There are many processes in this world that take time. Impatience will destroy and kill. Getting in a hurry only hinders rather than helps the desired end.
Of all the Christian graces, patience is one of the greatest. It is a quality that every Christian should possess but especially the minister of the gospel. A shepherd of God’s sheep must have great patience. Without patience the pastor and missionary will fight frustration and discouragement. Under the pressures of ministry an impatient man will not have the strength to continue. He will simply quit.
We live in a push button age. In our homes are microwaves and automatic appliances. We carry home from the supermarket instant puddings and ready-made cakes. Does this streamlined modern age give us more time to pray, study our Bibles and enjoy our families? On the contrary spare time is becoming more and more a precious commodity. Life is a constant rush. So much so, that if a person is not careful it can develop into a panic resulting in nervous breakdowns and heart attacks. In the business world the pressure of meeting deadlines and quotas can become almost unbearable.
The spirit of this fast jet age must never take over in the ministry of the Holy Ghost preacher. He must never be caught up in the spirit of restlessness, uneasiness and dissatisfaction.
Impatience is the quality that breeds this kind of spirit and must be fully eradicated.
This modern spirit of impatience influences Pentecostal altars. Hurry up! Get it over with! We must get down to the restaurant for some fellowship. Fifty years ago new converts spent hours seeking for the Holy Ghost. Seldom was the altar service dismissed before midnight. One preacher declared that this was wholly unnecessary. The Comforter has come and all one has to do is to believe and receive. This is true and this fact cannot be challenged. But how long does it take to repent? One person may repent in a few minutes. The next person may take days to pray through. In the early thirties I remember lying on my back at the altar for hours seeking for the glorious infilling of the Holy Ghost. We recognize that it does not have to take hours but let us not get in a hurry. A shallow experience may be the result.
Too frequently we settle for forced births. Many evangelists are anxious to count numbers. One evangelist who preached a crusade in a church where I was pastoring was guilty of this. In this particular crusade many strangers visited the services. Under the persuasion of the evangelist they came to the altar. In a few minutes the evangelist told them that they had received the Holy Spirit. I can still see the disappointed expression on their faces revealing the disillusionment they experienced. Some of these visitors we never saw again.
The work of God takes time. Let us never get in a hurry. One well known minister whom I respect greatly made this statement in a district convention: “I can go into any town and have at least fifty converts baptized within six months.” Although I respected this minister I recognized this as being an extravagant statement. In my own mind I said, “How I would like to take you to the states of Montana and Wyoming, and watch you do it. Please demonstrate for me.”
Many times impatience is the direct result of goals that are not realistic. Such unrealistic goals insist that we must have revival NOW. We must reap the harvest TODAY. Otherwise we are a failure.
Some preachers remind me of a farmer who ploughs the field today. The next day he harrows the ground. The third day he is in the field with the seed drill. The fourth day he wants to enter the field with the combine to reap the harvest. The farmer knows that this is impossible. They have more common sense than some modern preachers.
It is God who gives the harvest and it is God who gives a revival. The one who ploughs and sows must learn to wait upon God whether he is farmer or preacher. There needs be no question about results. If the ploughing and seeding are properly done the harvest is certain.
“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:6).
Patience produces perseverance. No matter what the results appear to be, the patient preacher never gives up. There is no place to quit in the work of God. If one is in the will of God the harvest is sure.
I have taught Pioneer Evangelism upon many occasions in Bible Colleges. In my classes I have told the students that it takes five years to raise up a church congregation. Sometimes it is accomplished in five months. However, examine it closely. Generally when this happens there are a number of tentmakers accompanying the pioneer evangelist. Certainly if a small congregation moves into a town with him the results will be different. Also, some preacher may have already been there ploughing and sowing the seed. In this case the evangelist moves into town and reaps the harvest.
I have been involved in Pioneer Evangelism since the fall of 1936 and do not consider myself a novice. In Jamaica during the first term the number of churches grew from eight to twenty-three. During six years in the Northwestern District while I was Superintendent there were twenty new churches opened.
I have witnessed pioneer evangelists raising up two or three congregations and losing them one by one before there is the joy of seeing a strong assembly established. A farmer may rejoice as he looks upon acres of wheat waving in the breeze. Then he is heartbroken as he watches the crop destroyed with a plague of grasshoppers. Next year it may be the frost and the next year a drought. The farmer may witness two or three crop failures before he reaps the harvest for which he has been laboring. Why is he able to reap? It is because of patience.
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36).
Wrong goals will cause a Christian, minister or saint, to become impatient and frustrated. The desire for crowds, applause, and recognition can be wholly destructive to a person’s faith. Once a young pastor wrote me a heart-breaking letter expressing his discouragement. “I did so much want to be a success.”
It was a pitiful letter. So much so that I boarded a train and rode one full night and day to visit him. I did my best to try to encourage him.
What is success? Crowds, spectacular reports, recognition, numbers? Is it not being in the perfect will of God and being faithful? It should be remembered that God keeps a different set of records. We are only a success when we fulfill God’s divine purpose in our lives. To hear Him say, “Well done!” is what really matters. Certainly we can be just as successful preaching to a dozen souls as preaching to a congregation of several hundred.
Why is patience needed? It is because we are dealing with people. Every person is different, every church assembly is different, and every town and community is different. The response differs according to the congregation.
In a congregation the preacher may be aware that there are people present who do not like him. He may also know that there are some who rebel against his teaching. How does this influence him? Does he preach differently? Does he become impatient, harsh, arrogant or negative? Not if he knows the meaning of patience. Although he may be fighting frustration and discouragement he will never allow this to show over the pulpit. There he preaches God’s Word. He ministers to people, good and bad, spiritual and carnal. It is God’s Word that will accomplish the work of grace in each heart. The minister must rise above all pettiness and feelings that would distract from God’s Word.
The Bible has much to say about Patience: “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:” (Romans 5:3-4).
“In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19).
“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:4).
The benefits of possessing patience are many. In one of his sermons John Wesley had this to say regarding patience: “One immediate fruit of patience is peace: a sweet tranquility of mind; a serenity of spirit, which can never be found unless where patience reigns. And this peace often rises into joy. Even in the midst of various temptations, those that are enabled ‘in patience to possess their souls’, can witness, not only quietness of spirit, but triumph and exultation.” (Sermons on Several Occasions by John Wesley, 1855.)
Much patience is needed in making disciples of new converts. Sometimes the learning process is slow. Being told a truth just one time generally is not enough. It takes time to train, teach and disciple in the development of spiritual saints.
It is inspiring to examine the patient training of an athlete or a musician. In 1934 while attending summer school in the city of Hamilton, Ontario, I boarded in a home next door to a musician. This young man was a gold medalist pianist. Day after day he practiced on the piano from morning to night. As I listened to him I could readily understand why he was able to win gold medals and rewards.
While teaching mathematics at King’s College in Vancouver a young man attended my classes. He had previously failed two times in Mathematics 91. He needed his Upper School Algebra in order to continue his college education. It was not just the regular classes I spent with him. We spent several hours in extra instruction after school and at noon hours. What satisfaction I had when I heard that he had passed the departmental examination in Mathematics 91.
Nevertheless there are preachers who show little patience with young converts. It is enough to tell them once! However, it is not enough! Over and over again they must be instructed and exhorted. Through patient perseverance the shepherd will eventually see the Christian blossom and develop like a beautiful rose.
What a shameful disgrace to see a mother scream at a little one who spills some milk! Slapping and swatting the baby accomplishes nothing except to reveal the mother’s nasty temper. The ultimate result will be that the child will grow up to be impatient and to have a nasty disposition. The patient loving parent will see her offspring grow up to be a beautiful Christian.
The same principle holds true in the church.
If the pastor is nasty and impatient with the sheep, if he scolds and speaks harshly, the sheep will either scatter, or they in turn will develop into unhappy people who fuss and fight. By faithfully ministering with love and patience it is possible to see the new converts become part of a strong, healthy, contented flock.
The above article “The Ministry of Patience” is written by Ralph V. Reynolds. This article was excerpted from chapter nineteen in Reynolds’s book If The Sheep Could Speak.
The material is copyrighted and should not be repainted under any other name or author. However, this material may freely be used for personal study or purposes.