People… they’re all around us! There are nearly seven billion of them on the planet and they’re all different. I think God purposely puts us in relationships (marriage, work, church, etc.) with people who are vastly different than we are and then chuckles as we try to get along. But get along we must – it’s part of our purpose. One of the greatest challenges of leadership is learning to be patient with people. The payoff is huge, but it’s certainly not easy.

Why We Need to Be Patient

Not everybody is at the same level of maturity. Not everyone is as well-equipped to relate to people as you are, and you’re probably not as skilled as you convince yourself at times. Some may struggle from a lack of leadership maturity, others from a lack of emotional maturity. Either way, it presents challenges to working as a team.

It’s really not about you anyway. Remember that great leaders exist to develop the people around them. So that person you have a hard time with was placed in your path for a reason.

We’re not so easy to get along with ourselves at times. This is a humbling thought, but we certainly aren’t perfect in our relational skills either, so it behooves us to be that much more patient with others.

How to Find That Extra Bit of Patience

It’s one thing to know I need to be more patient. It’s another to know how to practice it. Here are some thoughts…

See the gifts in people. Nobody is useless. Some people render themselves virtually so by their own destructive choices and when this happens in an organization, sometimes they have to go, but by virtue of creation, nobody is useless. Everyone has something to contribute.

See yourself in people. Try to find those characteristics of developing leaders that you once saw in yourself.

See the potential in people. Realize that your patience with someone today may give them a better chance at greatness, thereby extending your influence even further. Everybody has potential – some may not see it fulfilled – but everybody has it.

Make it a conscious decision. Patience with people doesn’t happen on accident. It’s purposeful and intentional. You know you’re going to encounter someone a little difficult today. Determine that you’ll have a predisposition toward graciousness.

Managing relationships is the tough side of leadership. Almost anybody can manage numbers and tasks. People make up every kind of institution and organization. Without people skills, we’re going nowhere, so make this your first and primary leadership discipline. Decide to be patient with people.

Brandon Cox is a Pastor at Saddleback Church as well as a web communications consultant. He has several successful businesses including freelance design and development.
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