Dealing with difficult personalities is the hazard of life. There are some personalities that come together like gasoline and a match. When you work in ministry you notice it more and you muster through it, hoping and praying that something will change either in their heart or your own. You can’t escape personality. If you don’t get it at church, you’re bound to get it as you mingle with other moms, other friends, or going shopping, and you get that lady in front of you who asks the cashier to wait while she searches for change. Meanwhile, the line is growing and so is your irritation. It’s personality and sometimes a lack of consideration.
It’s my opinion that God invented personality as a way of growing His children, making them unique, and learning a daily process of forgiveness. My dear friend likes to talk of long-suffering, and while waiting in line behind the inconsiderate person digging in her purse for change is not like watching your husband die or saying goodbye in divorce, it’s a form of long-suffering if you stay with a ministry in spite of the personality; if you go to church anyway in spite of the personalities; and if you allow the situation(s) to change your life in a godly way.
I may fidget as I am in line behind the person who finally has found the two pennies at the bottom of her purse and hands it to the cashier. The customer smiles apologetically at me and I smile in return—it is a reluctant smile. She has no idea that her determination to find those two pennies has caused angst in I and in the people behind me. My sin is impatience.
A fact that humbled me one day in the grocery store when a woman in front of me, handing welfare checks to the clerk, had a baby that cried. The baby’s blanket dropped to the floor and I didn’t feel the compassion to bend down and pick it up. My impatience didn’t allow me to feel anything for the woman, but when another clerk handed her the blanket, guilt settled deep in me. I thought of that moment for the rest of the week and still now in repentance. How I could have shown a much different attitude then, but that day was a year ago, and it’s a lesson I have never forgotten. Oftentimes, our personalities clash and it causes rifts in church, in friendships, and even in working relationships. To me, it’s a heart problem. If I can’t show tolerance to another personality, how can I expect them to show tolerance to my personality?
How have you exhibited impatience and what did God teach you through that experience?