“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him . . .” – Psalm 37:7
Most of the major mistakes I have made in my life can be traced back to a common human weakness, impatience and acting too hastily, and taking matters into my own hands. That goes from speaking out of turn, saying the wrong things, or hurting someone by something I’ve said, to making poor choices, to bad strategic decisions both in life and in business. Impatience can blind us from our ability to reason clearly and to maintain faith that the right actions and best solutions will occur when the time is right.
The story of Abraham and Sarah is a perfect example. God, you may recall, had promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. Yet he and his wife Sarah, who were advancing in years, remained childless despite God’s promise. Eventually they became impatient and took matters into their own hands. Sarah’s handmaid thus became the mother of Abraham’s son, Ishmael. Except, they had acted hastily, for this was not the son God intended for them. Finally, when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90 God did give them their son, Isaac, the one who he had promised. All they had needed to do was “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.”
Many years ago, when my career was on the rise I became impatient that opportunities for advancement were not coming my way fast enough. Then an offer came I thought would be the answer to my longing for super success. Instead my impatience had blinded me from thinking clearly, and my faith had faltered in believing that better opportunities might be in store. The result was that acting hastily I made a bad strategic decision that almost destroyed my career. But, as with Abraham and Sarah, that better opportunity did come along in due time, which restored my career back to the right trajectory. In retrospect, it would have saved me a lot of pain if I had remained patient.
My grandchildren love to bake cookies with their grandmother. But inevitably around age two they all do the same thing, they grab the cookie cutter out of Grantee’s hand then announce predictably, “I do it myself!” You can imagine what comes next – a big mess, flour, sugar and cookie dough all over the floor. But aren’t we all like two-year-olds in a way, impatient and acting hastily, taking matters into our own hands, then making a big mess? If only we would learn to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.”