Why you need tactical patience

By Nathan Rose

We live in an era of human history where we can get just about anything at lightning speed. High-speed Internet allows us to stream and download movies, music, and other internet content without delay. Amazon Prime gives us the ability to receive our purchases in a very short amount of time. Currently, Amazon is in the process of making drones to deliver our packages instantaneously. Jimmy John’s prepares and delivers our sub sandwiches so fast that we freak. And the list could go on, but you get the idea. We live in a very fast pace culture that expects and applauds immediate results.

None of this is inherently wrong, but it does conflict with the biblical mindset for ministry. Patience is an attribute lauded by Scripture and thus necessary for pastoral ministry, especially replanting. For example, when Paul exhorts young Timothy to fulfill all the aspects of his ministry he tells him he should do so “with complete patience” (2 Tim. 4:2). Earlier in the same letter, Paul explains that the young pastor should patiently endure those who are troublesome in the church (2 Tim. 2:24). Elsewhere Paul writes that patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). And one of practical outworkings of love is patience (1 Cor. 13:4).

In addition to these admonitions to exercise patience, a common imagery employed by Scripture to describe ministry is agriculture. I am not a farmer, but one thing I know about farming is that it takes time. Farmers must be patient and cannot rush the process. Paul utilizes this agrarian concept with the Corinthian church, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Cor. 3:6-7). He does it as well in his second letter to Timothy, “It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.” (2 Tim. 2:6). Jesus also employs the imagery of agriculture to describe the Kingdom of God (see Mark 4:14-20; Mark 4:26-29; Luke 13:18-19). 

Other seasoned pastors recognize the need for patience when leading a dying church back to life. In his commentary on the book of Titus, John Calvin attests to this necessity. He writes, “The building of a church is not so easy of a task that it can all at once be perfectly completed…we know by experience that it is not the work of one or two years to restore a fallen church to a tolerable state.” [1] The reality is that impatience, like immorality, can crush a pastor’s ministry. In their book “The Deliberate Church”, Mark Dever and Paul Alexander concede this point, “The best way to lose your place of influence as a pastor is to be in a hurry, forcing radical (even if biblical) change before the people are ready to follow you and own it.”[2]

I hope you are beginning to see a common theme. Patience, although it may be scoffed at by the culture, is essential for replanting. It takes time to turn a church around that has been deeply engrained with unhealthy patterns of behavior.

In addition to being patient, you must also possess tact. Making the right changes at the wrong time or in the wrong way will still be disastrous for you and the church. This is why replanters need ample amounts of wisdom and discernment. Jesus told the apostles that they needed to be shrewd. And so do those who are called to replant. This is the part of tactical patience that is difficult to write about because there is no Bible verse or formula on exactly when or how to make these changes. However, in the next post I will give some practical ways for the replanter to exercise tactical patience.

[1] John Calvin, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, vol. 10, The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians and the Epistles to Timothy, Titus and Philemon: T.A. Smail ; Editors, David W. Torrance, Thomas F. Torrance (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996), 356.

[2] Mark Dever and Paul Alexander, The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry On the Gospel (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005), 38-39.

Published January 28, 2016

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Nathan Rose

Nathan Rose is the senior pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Liberty, Missouri. His love for the local church propels all he does, including his role as a National Replanting Catalyst for NAMB and the Director of Church Vitality for the Clay-Platte Baptist Association. He is also a regular contributor to For the Church, a gospel-centered ministry of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Historical Theology. He and his wife, Rachel, have three young children. You can connect with him on Twitter at @nathanrose33.