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Key to Korean #11: Patience is Persistence


Nature, by example, shows us anything worthwhile comes over time. Anything worthwhile grows methodically, building on a strong foundation. Develop a willingness to carry on despite roadblocks.
— Jaren L. Davis

If you’re anything at all like me, all your dreams and goals in life just seem to be taking forever to be achieved. Like most people, I want those dreams to be fulfilled as soon as…YESTERDAY.

Patience is most certainly NOT a virtue in my case. What IS a virtue however, is the fact that I don’t just quit when I don’t quickly get what I want (perhaps that’s the real definition of patience?).

Patience (from

  1. the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like
  2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner
  3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience

My wife would certainly be the first one to laugh at “even-tempered” or “without complaint” or “suppress restlessness.” Ha! Indeed, I’m not one to mince words with people I’m closest to.

  • “Dahhh! I’m so tired of…”
  • “Uggh! Why does it take so long…”
  • Gahh! When will I ever…”

And in fact, I’m not alone in that kind of thinking. In fact, by their very nature, human beings are IMpatient people. Let me give you a few examples:

My two-year-old
  • “Daddy, can I play iPad? Daddy, can I play iPad? Daddy, can I play iPad? Daddy? Daddy?”
  • “No, not before dinner. I already told you 30 times. No.”
  • …”Daddy…I want to play iPad. Can I play iPad, Daddy?”

(As if somehow changing the vocabulary or word order will get me to change my mind.)

Some friends we know

There’s a couple we know from church who we’ve been friends with for a very long time. I’ve played on the band with them for about 6 years and they even performed the music for our wedding. They were married a few years before us (3 years ago), and ever since then (likely since long BEFORE then), have had an ambition to go to America to study music abroad. Problem is, TOEFL.

Their English level is about on par with my Korean level – and we’re all improving at about the same pace.

I can absolutely understand their feeling about how slooooow language acquisition feels and had dreadfully hard it is to be patient and “wait” for fluency (active waiting vs. passive – there’s a big difference). They’ve already pushed back many things (moving to a new house, having babies) in their lives in order to focus on getting their English up high enough to go study abroad.

Recently, I was talked with the husband as he expressed his eagerness to “just do it” – get the TOEFL scores, go to America, graduate with advanced degrees, and return to Korea. When I advised him, I really should have been talking to myself:

You know what? You have time. Lots of time. Who says you have to get this done RIGHT NOW? You don’t need to postpone the rest of life so much. Even if you have kids, it won’t stop you, just delay you. You can still get to America. Besides, don’t most Korean parents want to send their kids abroad for school? You could go with them.

 What patience ISN’T

A lot of people would try to tell you about what patience IS:

  • “Patience is like nature…”
  • “Patience is like a river, gradually cutting deeply into rock, eventually creating a beautiful canyon.”
  • “Patience is like the wind, blowing dust against stone, gradually wearing it down.”

And while it’s relatively easy to theoretically understand those principles, it’s a lot harder to understand what patience is practically. So let me present the following list of what patience ISN’T, and that in turn will help us see more clearly what it IS:

  1. Patience ISN’T giving up on your dreams.
  2. Patience ISN’T temporarily postponing your dreams.
  3. Patience ISN’T declaring that your dreams are less important than they are.

Rather, Patience IS persistence. It’s continually pressing on for the goal, anticipating the achievement of that goal at some point in the future.

Patience is Persistence

Have you ever heard anyone say, in reference to what you hope to achieve or accomplish, “Be patient.”?

That doesn’t mean, “Just sit down and wait.” It means, “Press on but don’t be discouraged.”

That’s why the quote at the beginning of this post is so key:

Develop a willingness to carry on despite roadblocks.

Patience isn’t waiting for something better. Patience is MAKING something better, slowly, surely, deliberately, mindfully.

So the next time someone tells you to “Be patient” in the pursuit of your dream, tell them “I already am. That’s why I work so hard at it EVERY DAY.”

How are you Patiently Persisting in pursuit of your dream? Do it DAILY.

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