Buckets of patience?

I have nerves of steel. At least, that’s what I kept telling myself as I trained yet another new truck driver. This young man from Baltimore was driving me crazy with his personality quirks and constant rejection of my advice. I have nerves of steel and buckets of patience. At least, that’s what I kept telling myself.

In-truck training takes several weeks using an apprenticeship model where the trainer and trainee live and work side by side, 24 hours a day, for up to two weeks straight. I have buckets of patience. The apprenticeship model of education puts a new learner in the hands of a skilled tradesman. The skilled person demonstrates what’s required, supervises the trainee’s practice and gives feedback to bring the student to mastery.

When you have a good trainee who’s easy to get along with, it can be fun. When there’s a personality conflict, even a small one, it gets magnified and stressful. As I tried to give this young man feedback to bring his performance to mastery, he rejected my coaching by saying, “Naw!” So, almost every time I attempted to impart years of hard-won experience, I was met with resistance. Almost. Every. Time. My bucket was running low as I confronted this young man on his lack of humility and willingness to learn.

Christian discipleship follows an apprenticeship model. An experienced Christian teaches or demonstrates right thinking and conduct to help someone who is new to the life of faith. As the new follower grows in obedience, they receive feedback and move towards mastery of the Christian life. This process continues through a person’s entire life and requires buckets of patience for both the teacher and the follower. Through this long-term relationship, the new trainee becomes a new trainer, who is able to help others live a life of faith. Can you imagine how the system would break down if the trainer had no patience? Or if the trainee’s pride created a barrier to growth?

The apostle Paul addresses issues of patience and humility as key character qualities for the Christian in chapter four of the book of Ephesians. He says, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:1b-2). When we have an opportunity to develop the virtues of humility and patience, let’s make sure we don’t say “naw!” and refuse to grow. Let’s develop the nerves of steel and buckets of patience we need to face future challenges together.

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