We often laugh about the trials that come when we pray “for all patience” (Col. 1:11). The word itself seems a definite contradiction in terms for the child or teen who can’t wait to grow up. The kind of patience Paul prays for here is patience with people, the capacity to get along with difficult people who might try to crush a child’s spirit through gossip, bullying, hurtful words, or by leaving the child out of social circles.
We see this in adults who never learned simple kindness and patience with others; perhaps because it was not modeled in childhood for them.
From time to time, this becomes an issue on our SLU 301 as program as students travel through Great Britain and France. We usually travel with seven buses and about 350 people, and often, at least a third of the group is parents. It is a whirlwind of inspiration, adventure and exhaustion! Inevitably, a parent or two loses his or her joy through the hectic pace, traffic, heat, and long hours and reacts harshly to the staff.
One of our 5-year veteran staffers, who happens to be the executive director of a major international ministry, was blessed with a mom on his bus who must have needed a long nap. She was rude, late, bossy, and just unkind. He said nothing to any of us, but that day on the long ride to Paris from a day at Normandy, he felt led to conduct a foot washing on the bus. Row by row, seat by seat, he washed the dirty feet of students and parents with disposable cloths and prayed over each one on his knees. Of course, when he came to her, he knelt and smiled, and proceeded to humble himself as he served. She came to us later that night with tears running down her cheeks, asking for forgiveness for the lack of patience she had shown. She could not be compliant enough after that!
Servant leadership, lived out loud as Jesus did, does not need to shout to be heard or to impact lives. As I heard Bernice King say, “Turning the other cheek is really about showing a better side of yourself.”
Pray for the ability to deal with the unlovely without becoming irritated, without bitterness, and without retaliation; for example, with a bully on the playground, a teacher-student relationship, or a strained friendship.
“A soft answer turns away anger: but harsh words stir up anger.”
Pray that every event of your child’s life will become a stepping stone toward trusting God in a genuine way, to grow in kindness to others, and to connect in healthy relationships.
“Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.” Colossians 4:6
Pray for your children to follow the example of Jesus.
“Love your enemies, pray for those who bully (curse) you.”