FaithZette

‘Without Patience, We Will Learn Less in Life’

To be true Christians, let's slow down and pay attention to those who need kindness, care and love

Instant coffee, Instagram, instant message, instant replay — all of this leads to the instant gratification so many people have been accustomed to today.

Especially in New York City where I work, everyone seems in a hurry except the tourists — and as a result, there is tremendous frustration in foot traffic and very little patience for anyone who gets in the way, both on the roads and along the sidewalks.

Related: Let Those Grudges Go — and Grow Closer to God

As St. Mother Teresa reminds us, “Without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually means less.”

Here’s why we must refresh ourselves on this — and how we can grow as Christians when we change our mindset:

1.) We see less when we are impatient. A business leader in Manhattan recently shared that he saw tears in the eyes of his assistant while the two of them were discussing a daily report.

He put his papers aside and asked her if something was wrong — and immediately the floodgates opened.

She had some pretty major issues she wanted to discuss, and he was able to offer some solace and comfort.

He saw the tears because he cared. This individual is appreciated by his team precisely because he takes time for them: He always tries to put his people first.

While focus and efficiency are necessary for businesses to be successful, there’s the risk of becoming so focused that the very people needed to succeed and to make those gains are overlooked. We must take the time to “read” the human signals right in front of our eyes.

2.) We feel less when we are impatient. The words of Ebenezer Scrooge — “Bah! Humbug!” — unfortunately still ring true in the halls of many offices. Too often it’s all about getting it done, of producing results … with little room for empathy or kindness.

The desire for profit and fortune can make very good people insensitive to human realities, causing them to push their subordinates to the breaking point. As told in “A Christmas Carol,” the ghost of Jacob Marley — a former colleague of Scrooge’s — appeared to his friend to show him the consequences of his brash and thoughtless behavior on Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and countless others.

Patience requires caring enough about others to change our plans to focus on loving them, on being there for them, and on “hearing” them, whether they actually articulate something to us or not.

The good news is that Scrooge’s heart (thank you, Charles Dickens!) ultimately became softer and kinder — and he changed his overall disposition after these visions and revelations.

3.) We hear less when we are impatient. For many type A people, there’s a tendency to shut down and ignore everything other than an “agenda” and a goal.

This can be dangerous in marriage, too, where listening and understanding are so important. After a long day at work, many spouses simply do not want to “endure” the issues their partners may be dealing with or may need to share.

Patience requires caring enough about others to change our plans to focus on loving them, on being there for them, and on “hearing” them, whether they actually articulate something to us or not.

If we slow down a little and open our eyes, our hearts, our ears — we will see, feel and hear more of what God wants from us.

Fr. Michael Sliney is a Catholic priest based in the New York City area and an adviser to the Lumen Institute, a professional business group.