The Power of Patience

In our previous lessons, Teaching Money to Children and Youth, Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, we have looked at overviews loaded with ideas for teaching money and stewardship, and then we looked at teaching about the cost of money and especially teaching a healthy fear of the power and use of money as a tool. Now it is time to move the lessons into a few hands-on life-long lessons. We start with the need for patience in money growth.

Patience is a commodity often in high demand and short supply in raising children. It isn’t that parents don’t have a lot of patience, most do. The problem is that it takes even more patience to live and to teach successfully than many parents realize. There are two components to the patience involved. First, parents must have patience because it takes a lot to raise children well. Second, parents have to teach patience to their children, because children are going to need it as they learn life.

Why having patience matters

Simply put, patience is a spiritual fruit and a character-builder God wants us to have.

Galatians 5:22
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, …

God has displayed His incredible patience with us:

Romans 9:22
22  What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?

1 Timothy 1:15-16
15  Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
16  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

Having to be patient teaches many lessons, but perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn from patience is that we are dependent upon a very generous and gracious God. As God teaches us these lessons, we are to teach our children and help teach our grandchildren those same lessons.

Patience is a spiritual skill that comes with wisdom, practice and a lot of effort, especially biting your tongue.

Proverbs 19:11
11  A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

Patience takes effort. Paul wrote that we have to “clothe” ourselves with patience. It takes effort to be well-dressed, and at times it takes an enormous amount of effort to be well-dressed with patience.

Colossians 3:12
12  Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

So how do you teach patience? Start with being patient. You cannot teach well a skill you do not have. Furthermore, children learn more from their parents’ behaviors than they do from spoken lessons. “Be patient” is hardly a convincing lesson from an impatient parent. Once you have learned patience, you can teach it.

Teaching patience

One lesson that works well is to teach budgeting. See Part 2 of this series of articles. Of course, to teach your children budgeting, you must be budgeting your own household. But here is one important trick: don’t just teach financial budgeting, teach time budgeting as well. Just as it is wise to have margin in your finances, it is wise to have margin in your time and tasks. For more details on starting to save, being wise with your savings and building financial margin, see It’s Time to Start Saving, 7 Steps for Financial Progress, and Save More – 10% Isn’t Enough.. A parent who is, as a friend of mine describes it, running around like his or her hair is on fire, will teach poor time management to children.

Other teaching steps include teaching about the cost of money. See Part 3 in this series of articles. One or both parents have to go to work because work is the cost of money. Explain that the nice things the family has come from lots of work. Will you convince your child with one or two or even three explanations? Of course not! But that is where you display patience and explain it calmly as many times as it takes, using every opportunity to teach and re-teach that lesson. Next time you go to a movie or out to dinner, explain even without being asked, “See what good things can come from Mommy going to work.”

Another way to teach patience is by teaching choices. Deliberately require your child to choose between options. “I want this toy and that toy!” Explain and demonstrate that there is only enough money to buy one, not both. That is where paying cash and not pulling out plastic or your phone can come in very handy. It is too hard to explain the entire bill paying process while you are in the store. But it is possible to count out the bills and show that there isn’t enough. And guess what? You are also teaching math at the same time! Then add to the lesson by saying that you have to work another week before you can buy that second toy. Then start setting the money aside in a glass jar so your child can watch the work pay off and the saving grow for the toy. You can make that savings game even more challenging by tracking the savings with a budget spreadsheet tab or record, and you can even add interest, explaining that interest is added as a reward for patience. That teaches patience, hard work, math and stewardship all at the same time.

When you travel or go on vacation, every parent has heard the cry, “Are we there yet?” Break the trip into large segments; break a four-hour drive into four one hour segments, and make each segment a lesson in patience (as well as math, dividing 4 by 4 equals 1, and then 1+1 equals 2, half of four, and so on). Make the first quarter of the trip a video, the second a game, and then have a pit stop. Then make the third back to the video and finish with another game. In Florida, a great game is looking for the license tags of cars from every state, because it is actually possible to see them all. You can talk state capitals at the same time and ask where those states are located. Have a US map in the car (yes, they do still make paper maps) or have one bookmarked so the children can check on their answers and see the states. Guess what, you have just done a geography lesson. You can then start to add in some US history with a few facts and details about the area you are passing through.

Teach through these efforts that money can be a very useful tool. See Teaching Money to Children and Youth – Part 4. Through that you can teach patience because it takes time and skill to use a tool well. With that thought, every household repair job from changing the float in the toilet, to cleaning out a drain, to hanging pictures, becomes a lesson in patience.

By now you get the idea; there are lessons on patience in everything we do in life. The work day is long, and it doesn’t get any shorter by complaining about it. But complaining about it does teach impatience. Life is a lesson – and everything you do that your children can see or hear is a lesson. Teach well!

About the Author

John Campbell has retired from a 40-year legal practice as a trial attorney in Tampa. He has served in multiple volunteer roles at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, where he met Jesus. He began serving as the Executive Director of the Idlewild Foundation in 2016. He has been married to the love of his life, Mona Puckett Campbell, since 1972.