So, let’s take a look at developing patience. Patience is a Christlike attribute. Of it, Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel says the following. Read this carefully. Pay attention to every sentence.
“Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God’s will and accept His timing. When you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully. Patience is related to hope and faith–you must wait for the Lord’s promised blessings to be fulfilled.
You need patience in your everyday experiences and relationships, especially with your companion [or friends, roommates, etc.]. You must be patient with all people, yourself included, as you work to overcome faults and weaknesses.”
Now, write a definition of the word patience. Think about how you would describe this attribute to somebody who is not associated with the quality. Focus on creating a simple and solid sentence that captures the essence of the word.
Good. Take that definition that you just created, and make it more profound. Turn it from a dictionary entry into a mini encyclopedia entry.
Okay, now try to think of some questions about patience. For example, “How did Jesus Christ show patience?” “How are having hope and being patience related?” Why do I need patience?” Things like that. You can make as many questions as you like.
The next step is to turn to the scriptures. Find the answers to those questions. You can find scriptures about patience by looking through the topical guide in the Bible, in Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel, and in many other places. Search for General Conference talks about it. LDS.org has a neat feature that lets you sort General Conference talks by topic, and a search for patience will certainty yield many results.
As you read these scriptures and conference talks, it’s very important to write down the spiritual impressions that you receive. Don’t take notes on what you’re reading, rather take notes on what you’re feeling. Elder Richard G. Scott has taught the following about keeping a study journal: “Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need. Spiritually sensitive information should be kept in a sacred place that communicates to the Lord how you treasure it. This practice enhances the likelihood of your receiving further light” (Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge, November 1993 Ensign). As we keep a log of the impressions that receive as we study, we put ourselves in the place to receive even more personal revelation.
The next part is a bit tricky. It involves setting goals and making plans for how to apply patience in your life. You may have noticed some situations where you’ve lacked patience: in interactions with certain people, when your roommate takes too long in the bathroom, feeling uncertainty when you think about the future, etc. Try to think of all of the moments in the past few weeks when you felt a lack of patience. Think about and visualize yourself handling the situation more patiently. Using your understanding amassed from your studies, think about the different words that you would use, thoughts you would have, etc. and write them down. Commit yourself to using different words or having different thoughts when you find yourself in those situations again.
It’s important to remember that there’s no procedure set in stone for developing more patience. It’s something that is learned moment by moment, decision by decision, day by day. Elder David A. Bednar has give the following council on developing faith (which can certainty be applied to developing patience, or any other Christlike attribute). This is from a great video on LDS.org called “Being an Agent to Act.”
“I don’t want to talk about faith in the Savior as if it’s a trait and there’s a formula, and if I just follow the elements of the formula, then I’m automatically going to get more. It’s a spiritual gift. But we have to be doing our part to be able to be in a position where we could receive the gift. And it always requires that we act first, and then the power comes.”
Do you recognize the significance of what Elder Bednar says? Christlike attributes are gifts from our Heavenly Father. When we develop more patience, it’s because our Heavenly Father has gifted us more. However, like Elder Bednar pointed out, we need to be indicating to our Father that it’s something that we’re working to receive. That’s why this next part if of the utmost importance. It’s necessary to pray for the Lord to help you develop patience. This step is the key. Jesus Christ has declared, “And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you” (3 Nephi 18:20). That scripture really speaks for itself.
Finally, it’s necessary to go back and evaluate your progress periodically in developing patience. It’s something that we have to strive continually to have. In other words, you can’t just “develop patience” one time and then be set for life. It’s something that requires attention over an extended period of time. Every so often, think back to experiences that you’ve had where you demonstrated patience and experiences where you could have been better. While doing this, always focus more on the positive than the things which you did wrong. We’re never going to be perfectly patient, so never beat yourself up for lacking patience at times. The important thing is simply to be improving little by little as time marches on. When you’re feeling discouraged, just remember that, “Yes! You are going to be good enough,” and, “Yes! You are going to make it as long as you keep repenting,” and as you keep trying to improve. (Am I Good Enough? Will I Make It?, Elder J. Devyn Cornish, October 2016 General Conference).
Learning to be like Christ is a lifelong pursuit. Elder Robert D. Hales has recently said that, “Genuine discipleship is a state of being. This suggests more than studying and applying a list of individual attributes. Disciples live so that the characteristics of Christ are woven into the fiber of their beings, as into a spiritual tapestry.” (Becoming a Disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ, April 2017 General Conference). As you strive to develop more patience, you will also learn more about charity, hope, kindness, and all of the other attributes that Christ has. There’s no better example to follow than that of the Savior.