In chapter two of 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me, I encourage pastors to take the long view:
Pastoral patience is underrated these days. From every angle we are bombarded with quick fixes, fast changes, and a desire for immediate results. I know many pastors who are thinking in months when they should be thinking years or maybe even decades. Being patient is not usually a top-tier, celebrated characteristic of pastors. But it should be.
During a 9Marks Conference at Southeastern Seminary, I unpacked this idea even further – highlighting the priority and demeanor of discipleship as it relates to patience. Pastors are called to disciple people and lead churches with and for patience for two reasons:
1. Patience is a mark of discipleship. It should be a priority.
Since patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and a vital part of spiritual maturity (Heb. 6:11-12), it should be a point of emphasis as we disciple people. We should join the apostle Paul in praying for our people to endure suffering as they embrace patience with joy (Col. 1:11). Genuine conversion is characterized by this all-important spiritual quality (Luke 8:15).
2. Patience is a key component of pastoral ministry. It should be modeled.
Spiritual leadership always involved the practice of patience (James 5:10). Pastoral ministry requires a modeling of patience (2 Tim. 3:10), especially as we become better, more experienced, and knowledgable. Effective teaching must include vibrant preaching combined with “complete patience” (2 Tim. 4:2). Pastoral care with hurting or difficult people demands patience (1 Thess. 5:14). And when unfairly treated or maligned, pastors must know how to patiently endure evil (2 Tim. 2:24).
Pastoral patience is a strategic and effective means of discipleship. Individuals and churches grow in Christlikeness as their shepherds embrace this critical but often neglected element of pastoral leadership.