In an age in which everybody wants everything right now, there will always be boundless opportunities for the fruit of the Spirit to blossom in longsuffering. Better known as patience, this fruit is displayed in self-restraint. It is the opposite of impatience, rebellion, resistance, disobedience, and anger.
Have you ever had a student, parent or staff member rub you the wrong way, unjustly complain about how things are run, or criticize your teaching methods and administrative decisions? Have you ever had a day when all you want to do is “lower the boom” on your students, double the consequences for rule infractions, and expel them from school? Do you have any pet peeves or points of irritation and annoyance? It is during these times that you need the fruit of longsuffering.
I remember a time when I thought about giving teachers a few days off without pay for not showing up for supervision, charging them three cents for every wasted photocopy page, locking the teacher’s workroom because they were unwilling to keep it clean, and withholding paychecks for not completing an assignment. I am thankful that I was longsuffering in these situations.
Hudson Taylor once made this confession:
My greatest temptation is to lose my temper over the slackness and inefficiency so disappointing in those on whom I depended. It is no use to lose my temper—only kindness. But oh, it is such a trial.
The infliction of an immediate penalty for wrongdoing may seem efficient and effective, but the long-term effect on changing attitudes and behavior may be less than desirable. Christian educators who are longsuffering generally do not promptly punish when it is deserving. “Patient understanding, the willingness to talk a situation out, above all, the time to pray about it—these are essential to the administration of discipline.” (Clayne Jensen)
Sometimes we lose our patience because of weariness. Having worked in both public and private Christian schools, I have seen that the demands being placed upon teachers in Christian schools are far greater than those required of teachers in public schools. The hours are generally longer, and there are more subjects to teach, more housekeeping responsibilities, more supervision duties, and more extra assignments. These demands drain and wear down the most robust physique.
Paul had the secret, “This is the reason that we never lose heart. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength” (2 Corinthians 4:16 Phillips).
Patience is a foundation stone in building relationships with students, staff, and parents. With patience as a foundation, it is much easier to take immediate or drastic disciplinary action when needed; when this type of action must be taken, restoration and healing of hurts come much easier.