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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Patient persistence - gentle words

15 Patient persistence pierces through indifference; 
   gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses.
(Proverbs 25:15)

Patient persistence - almost an oxymoron for American society - takes on very different meanings for each of us.  Persistence is the ability to continue in the face of opposition in a way that shows your commitment to whatever you are involved in.  Considering the attitude of society toward most ventures, including relationships, I think we have lost the "art of persistence" in our culture today.

Within relationship, both the character trait of patience and that of persistence play a very important part.  When we are both patient and persistent, we display an attitude that elevates the value of the other person.  It is this very characteristic of relating that makes the other person keenly aware of the investment we are making within that relationship.

The perception of our "investment" in the relationship is one of the key factors cited in divorce courts across America.  We have "irreconcilable differences" and are deemed no longer "able" to remain in relationship.  Companies and churches alike experience "division" over things that an outsider may view as the "splitting of hairs".  Individuals move from one pursuit to another because there is no sense of satisfaction - because we are looking for it to be immediate.

When we begin to experience patient persistence for the first time, we often don't know what to do in those relationships.  We wonder if there is an ulterior motive.  Why?  Because patient persistence affects what a person says, does, and brings into a relationship - whether it is a relationship at home, work, or in the community at large.  

Gentle speech is a hallmark of one who is committed to patient persistence.  Our words carry more influence that we really know.  The tone in which they are delivered makes all the difference as to their affect on the hearer.  Gentle words are refined and courteous.  They do not tear down because there is a tender quality to them.  That is how they begin to break down rigid defenses.  

I am always amazed when I come across someone who actually has learned to use gentle speech in their life.  Sometimes the message they must bring is hard.  I have observed that an individual who has learned patient persistence knows that words can "unfold" gradually - not everything needing to be said all at once.  As the words unfold, their are influential in their impact because they are coupled with the patient persistence that is behind them.

Our writer is "spot on" in his advice - patient persistence pierces through indifference.  It is the very thing that can break down denominational walls, open wide the doors for relationship, and incorporate hurting people into the very thing that will change their lives.  Gentle words are the most difficult to speak, yet the most effectively embraced words we can offer.  Their impact is not always immediate, but they are heard.  As we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit in our lives, we have the ability to patiently persist and to become quite skilled in our communication of truth, hope, and love to a hurting world.