How to Disarm Your Short Fuse of Impatience Right Now

Strength from God as you stand in life's long line of slow servers.

Do you have a long fuse or a short one when you get dawdling service at restaurants? For some reason, life hands us a long line of slow servers. At lunch not long ago my family got poor service from our waiter. Here’s what happened.

How to Disarm Your Short Fuse of Impatience

(Photo by Photodune)

I never let on to the waiter that I was miffed, yet inside my fuse was burning. Here’s why:

  • The table next to us ate and left before we did, though we arrived at the same time.
  • Our water glasses were often empty and the food order came out wrong.
  • The waiter fouled up the bill.
  • I was late getting back to work.

But then, just before we left, I felt like a complete idiot. The waiter made mention that it was his first day. You see, the problem wasn’t his incompetence.

It was my impatience.

Life hands us a line of slow servers. Does God offer some help?

Impatience Stems from a Dark Place

When the Apostle Paul wrote, “Love is patient,” he literally wrote: “Love is being patient” (1 Cor. 13:4).

Because the word for patience is a verb, it means patience is a decision we make. In fact, it’s a continual decision. We choose between patience and impatience every moment of every day. And the basis for that choice?

Love—or a lack of it.

Eventually that choice becomes a habit.

Why We Choose Impatience

Since impatience is a decision, why do we so often choose it over patience? The verse that follows, “Love is patient,” gives us the reason love makes that choice: “it does not seek its own” (1 Cor. 13:5).

Strength from God as you stand in the long line of slow servers.

(Photo by Photodune)

The motive of impatience is selfishness. We want what we want—and right now, please.

Selfishness refuses to wait on God and trust God to be God in His time. Selfishness wants God to act right now. But do we really?

Not if we knew better.

How We Can Diffuse Our Impatience

Since God is love, it makes sense that Scripture reveals Him as patient.

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. —2 Peter 3:9

God chooses patience toward those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ, giving them time to place their faith in His Son who died for their sins and rose again. Because God needs nothing, He chooses patience completely for the benefit of others.

That . . . is our model.

  • Love is being patient.
  • Love stems from a lack of selfishness.
  • God’s grace extends to us when we sin—even though we know better.

In the same way, patience is how we choose to respond to those who light our fuse.

Even when it’s not their first day on the job.

Question: What helps you diffuse your impatience? To leave a comment, just click here.

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  • Walt

    My sister taught something that is effective when I remember to use it. When I feel impatient for any reason, I take a moment and thank God for the opportunity to exercise my patience. When I pray that way, God changes my perspective and I feel His peace return.

    • That’s a great plan. I like your words: “when I remember to use it”! That’s true. So much of patience is simple choosing the first reaction.

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  • Donna Herbert

    I try to put myself I’m their shoes… You never know what people’s burdens are until you walk in their shoes..

    • That’s such a great way to think about things, Donna. So often I’ve felt so sure of myself, only to discover I’ve been completely wrong about someone. Thanks for the great advice.

  • John

    Morning, Wayne. I had to smile as I read this. (A) I really need/needed it. (B) The smile was because my first thought was, “Why didn’t this come yesterday… before I did something I’m gonna have to apologize for today?” I can imagine my Father smiling as well. All best, jaa

    • I am smiling right alongside you, John. So often, others’ incompetence really just highlights my impatience. Thanks for being the kind of man who will apologize. I admire that.

  • Michelle thick

    I stay patient because you never know what that person is going through. I would want to be treated in the same manner. If I do get impatient and act I usially find myself feeling bad afterward. So I really try to be patiebt always.

    • That’s a magnificent attitude, Michelle. Thanks for staying strong in those moments when impatience begs a difference response.

  • Jeanelle Sims

    Oh Wayne, God has given you such wisdom thank you for sharing it. Patient is a Verb, an action word. When I put it into practice I find myself considering what would I do in this circumstance.
    Like most things I complain about to the Father, I hear in my heart the Father say ” I am big enough to handle them, let’s talk about you”

    • So true, Jeanelle. God’s priorities begin with us, not others. Thanks for that reminder!

  • Dean

    Years ago when I was a businessman in New York, I boarded the New York subway to head home after a long hard and frustrating day at work. As I sat there trying to read the newspaper and decompress from the day, three children were running amok throughout the subway car. They were running around and loud, sometimes tripping over other passengers. In their activities one of them hit the newspaper I was trying to read. I noticed that periodically they would touch base with a man who was sitting in the corner, hunched over, seemingly unaware of his children’s activities. I was frustrated with the man. Why didn’t he do something? Why didn’t stop the kids? Why didn’t he tell them to sit down and behave themselves? What kind of parent was he? At some point he must’ve noticed my staring at him. He came over and apologized for his children’s actions. He said they were on their way back from his wife’s funeral and they must be acting out emotions that they didn’t have the maturity to express. He didn’t know how he was going to face the rest of his life without his wife.

    I don’t know where I heard or read this story. Did your emotions take a flip as you read the last lines? Mind did and I’ve learned not to judge so quickly, just like your waiter story.

    • That’s a great story, Dean. I’ve heard it used a number of times in sermons to illustrate the need to give folks the benefit of the doubt. I try to see another’s “weakness” as God’s call to me to pray for them rather than judge them. By the way, thanks for taking the extra effort to post this comment, Dean. Sorry for the extra steps it took. I’m hopeful many will benefit from it. God bless.

  • GALAXYKID MAX

    I have many instances in which I lost my temper. For instance……ever since I was a kid, my family came down exceptionally hard on me….to the point where I got really mad at them and became disconnected. Then along came that silent voice of correction in my mind and it told me that they were only expressing their version of concern for me….

    But I wouldn’t have it. I wanted to get away from them by ANY MEANS….unfortunately….to this day, God still has not opened up the way to make that dream happen fo me….so for now…I really am unable to do anything much at all…but have patience. It still is tough for me since I really don’t want to wait any longer and all the more so the older I become. The clock of age isn’t ticking backwards for me….so my reasoning is this…..if God has all the time in the Universe, doesn’t he keep in mind that I don’t?
    I’m 23!
    Pleass help! I am incredibly frustrated and fighting impatience here. Yes I know why they happen but that still doesn’t mean I like it

    • Impatience is a tough habit to break, for sure. Give this post another read or two . . . slowly. Do your best to apply what it says. Also spend time regularly reading the Bible and praying. Basic disciplines of the spiritual life can really help you grow in your godliness.

  • ARM BAR

    Yes you are right about the motive of impatience is selfishness,but sometimes when we face certain problem that we extremely need it and without immediate help our life would be in great trouble,in that situation would we still be called impatience if we keep asking?,i knew the bible story of Lazarus whom Jesus has resurrected in the end,that’s amazing stories,but my question is that story always applies for our problem?,i’m not that good to diffuse my own impatience Wayne,sometimes i can do and other time i can’t,still trying and trying Wayne ,Thank You for this Topic Wayne.

    • We are all still trying and trying when it comes to patience. Thankfully, God’s patience with us is huge, and He loves us enough to allow us to grow.