I don’t know if there might have been times when it has happened to you, but it certainly has happened a number of times to me. What I’m talking about is when it seems like someone’s “misdirected” patience stretches your patience tighter and thinner than the fifth string on my banjo!
But….. I think it’s very important how we respond in those situations, because even though we don’t like them….. they do happen!
About 25 years ago when I was still working “out on the floor” setting up machines and basically “hands-on” with almost every aspect of the business, there was an employee who really challenged my patience more than once, but on this particular day….. WOW!
I went in at about 3 AM to start setting up two smaller machines first, I thought I’d get those running and then start setting up one of the big 6 spindle machines. (Customers needed parts from all 3 of those machines by noon of that day, so that’s all I was focused on.) By 7:00 when this particular employee (who usually operated, but didn’t set-up the 6 spindle machines) came in, I had that big 6 spindle close to being ready to run. So, I told that man to just leave the other 6 spindle machines off until he gets this one finished and running….. because we need parts for the customer by noon. (I was thinking: it should only take 20 or 30 minutes, but allow him an hour or two because he’s not very experienced.) And off I went to the other side of the plant to work on some other machines before heading into the office to catch up on some paperwork.
At about noon I headed out to see how many parts we had off the 6 spindle, so I could let the customer know. As I walked over towards that direction I was puzzled as to why none of the 6 spindle machines were running. As I came up to the one I had been working on earlier—the one where I was expecting to see several hundred parts sitting on the floor next to it….. The machine was quiet and the parts pan was empty. Not a single part had been made! I just slowly looked the machine over….. the operator was “wrenching” on it, measuring things that didn’t need to be measured—all things that didn’t make any sense….. “wrenching” some more etc….. I realized he didn’t really know what he was doing! If I was a steam whistle I suppose that would have been the perfect time to “blow off some steam”! But, I held my tongue and continued to watch the man….. Finally I said: “You’ve been working on just lining up the cut off tool with the OD chamfer tool for 5 hours, and you still don’t have it done? He said: “I’m giving it all I’ve got and You Know Me Boss, I’ve Got Patience!”
You know what? I sincerely believe that man was trying as hard as he could, and if I did not have patience with him that day—even though we didn’t meet my customers deadline and yes he let me down….. But the only thing that man would have remembered was that he tried as hard as he knew how and I was a “steam whistle”. Instead of leaving him with that memory, what I did that day was; I took about 25 minutes and with him watching, I finished setting that job, got it running and my customer received parts later in the day.
“And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. Then, when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
Romans 5: 4-5 (TLB)
Sometimes, we have to patiently endure our current circumstances in order to grow spiritually, and in some cases we may even become a “silent witness” for Christ in doing so.
Till Next Time…..