Teens laying on grass looking at iPad

Helping Teens Walk Patiently With Others

If you asked those close to me what a strength of mine might be, patience wouldn’t likely be on the list. I find myself often rushing seasons to get into the next one, and wishing I could zoom past the difficult parts of the growth process. I know I’m not the only one who struggles to find my patience, as Paul encouraged the Roman church to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12, emphasis added). People have often joked that you shouldn’t pray for patience unless you’re willing to do the work to grow it. Just like we have to exercise our muscles on our bodies, patience is a spiritual discipline that has to be exercised to grow. 

Into the Thick of It

Patience is not strengthened through instant gratification. In fact, the dictionary definition of patience is, “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” My struggle is less in the “tolerate” part and more in the “getting upset” part. There have been many moments where the Lord worked on my heart to soften it and bring a positive attitude during seasons of waiting. Busyness is often my go-to coping mechanism, but it’s more of a distraction than a help. When I really want to grow my patience during times of waiting, I bring myself to the Lord’s feet. The more connected to Christ I am, the more likely I am to have a mindset like him. 

Being patient when counseling teens

It’s no secret that teenagers require an abundance of patience and love, as they are in a season of self-discovery and growth themselves. Counseling teenagers sometimes requires repetition or circling back to topics previously touched on. This is because their minds aren’t always developed to the point where they know how to apply the concepts they are learning. Without patience, the counseling room loses its safety and compassion, and teens lose their trust. It is incredibly important that I am able to exercise patience and grace when leading discussions with these adolescents. Here are some things that help me move at their pace while remaining calm and optimistic. 

Adjust Expectations

For me, patience begins with adjusting expectations. When I expect other people to meet an unrealistic goal, I am setting myself up to feel anger and disappointment. Each individual grows at their own pace, and it’s my job as a counselor to help them find the baby steps that are beneficial for their own personal growth. These realistic expectations are not only necessary in counseling but also for our other relationships. When I have a close friendship or a marriage that I am expecting to stand the stress of time, I must be willing to love them where I am. This requires the patience to let them grow with God in their own time. 

Pursue Forgiveness

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Colossians 3:13 NIV

Patience cannot coexist with unforgiveness. Unforgiveness yields bitterness, resentment, distrust, and fear. If I am withholding forgiveness toward someone in my life, it doesn’t just affect my relationship with them, but also my relationship with everyone around me. In order to successfully practice patience, I must surrender justice to the Lord and release those who have hurt me. Then, I can have the freedom to fully love the imperfect people in my daily life. 

Find Joy in Christ

The last key to walking patiently with others is learning how to find joy in Christ. As James encourages, ““Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3 NIV). When I look to God in the midst of my trials, I can hope for a greater purpose for my pain. Christ enables us to wait patiently, with a good attitude.


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