“What am I doing with my life?” and “Why am I here?” are two of life’s biggest questions for many people. Millions of us around the world quiz ourselves or are quizzed by others on these topics every day and for Christians these questions can carry even more weight. Time and time again we hear, read and are asked about our calling – how to identify it, how to respond to it, how to fulfill it. While it makes sense to improve our understanding on this aspect of our faith, placing a lot of pressure on each other to pursue a purpose in the context of a career or a spiritual vocation can have its downsides.
It’s common to become impatient when we feel that pressure is being applied to us. Whether it comes from other people or from ourselves, pressure can cause us to act as if possessing particular qualities or possessions is a matter of great urgency. It is certainly important to acknowledge and realise our potential and purpose but an important task doesn’t necessarily mean an urgent one. In fact, patience is often required to effectively achieve goals, in both a practical and spiritual sense.
Aside from being pragmatic, exercising patience is also one way of demonstrating our faith that God is in control. Just because our plan of knowing exactly what God has called us to isn’t always clear to us, that doesn’t mean it isn’t perfectly clear to Him.
Here are three reasons we should eliminate impatience in the pursuit of our purpose.
The risk of the rush
Although it’s great to be eager about discovering what God’s plan for our lives is, impatience can lead us to misinterpreting what God wants us to do or even projecting our own aspirations onto what we consider to be God’s will. Despite the best of intentions, we can risk making the wrong choices when we rush into a role.
The instant gratification effect
When we lose our patience it’s often because we are so focused on the outcome of a situation. We can become so concerned with the end goal, in this instance the discovery and fulfillment of our purpose, that we’re less considerate about the route we take and if it’s the right one. Similar to a sugar rush, the initial energy that we get from pursuing what we assume is our purpose soon fades when the initial thrill dies down and we realize how much hard work is involved – or it turns out that we were mistaken about what we thought was our purpose.
The procrastination problem
As odd as it may seem, research shows that when we are impatient about achieving or receiving something of importance, we’re also more inclined to procrastinate when we do. Finding out what God’s plan for our individual lives isn’t simple so it’s not always something that each of us will be able to identify on demand. But this is ok because when we do we’re likely to understand it better and value it more.