The Principle of Waiting

by Pastor Jack Hyles

(Chapter 18 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, How to Treat Different Types of Church members)

Isaiah 40:31, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

One of the most important qualities dealing with human relationships is the quality of waiting. There are times in our relationships when it is best to do nothing and wait. The wise Christian will discover these times.

1. Act swiftly, but do not decide swiftly. There is certainly nothing wrong with swift action, but let it not be hasty action. In other words, let us wait until the decision is clear, until the solution is obvious. Once this has come, let swift action follow.

2. It is usually wise for the pastor to wait before giving marital counseling. Most wounds heal themselves if left alone. If picked at, they can become infected. Most problems solve themselves, and many small problems become big problems because they are attacked too soon and picked at too often. I found, for example, that when a husband and wife contact me for marital counseling, it is best to wait two or three days before actually having the counseling session. Most of the problems will solve themselves or be solved by the couple within two or three days. A little wait is often wise.

3. It is wise to wait before hiring employees. Most pastors and churches hire too quickly We become enchanted with someone who has talent and ability and hire him before making a thorough investigation. A five-and-ten-cent-store clerk is usually investigated more carefully than is an assistant pastor, and sad to say, sometimes even more carefully than the pastor! No pastor in the world has a finer staff than do I, and no pastor in the world has had through the years finer people to work with him than has this preacher. I have never had a serious problem with a staff member, and certainly some of the finest men and women in the world are those who have worked for me and with me through these 40 years of pastoring. I am convinced that one reason for this record is that I wait carefully and watch carefully before hiring a staff member. This is especially true concerning assistant pastors and full-time male staff members. In some cases I have watched a man for three years or more before hiring him. In many cases, I have considered employing a man when at first I felt that he was the answer, and had a tremendous urge and desire to hire him immediately; however, I have always waited and have always been glad. In some cases, the time of waiting proved the man's integrity, value and loyalty In other cases, waiting proved that the man was not what I believe God wanted. The same pastor who advises his young people to wait until they know someone before marriage will quickly hire a staff member in an hour or two with whom he wants to have a lifetime ministry!

4. Wait before making a significant purchase. Much of the financial problem in America has been caused by impulsive buying! We see it; we want it; we buy it! It is amazing how quickly we become disenchanted with most of our purchases. Such purchases as houses, cars, furnishings, appliances, and even clothing should not be made hastily.

Just yesterday I received a letter from a young lady who has grown up in our church. She is one of my favorites, and she is married to a fine young man who is a graduate of Hyles-Anderson College. In the note that she wrote me just yesterday, she told me about a piece of furniture that they had seen for which they had fallen, and which they were going to buy. Its price was $1200. They agreed to purchase it, but just before the purchase, the young man said to his wife, "You know, we have always taken Brother Hyles' advice, and Brother Hyles has advised us to wait before making large purchases in order to be sure that we are doing the right thing." What he was saying was the Brother Hyles has warned his people against compulsive buying! They agreed to wait, and during the waiting period, they found that neither of them thought it was wise to purchase the $1200 piece of furniture. Soon there came a letter of thanks to me in appreciation for this very truth that I have taught through these years in First Baptist Church.

5. Wait before dismissing an employee. Many churches have been seriously damaged because of a hasty dismissal of a staff member. In 40 years of pastoring, I have never "fired" a staff member. There have been times when I was tempted to do so, but I always waited and an answer always came. Sometimes the answer was to transfer the person to another area of the ministry Sometimes the answer was to wait patiently, and on occasion the answer came when I felt that perhaps I myself was the problem and not the employee.

When someone is employed to work with me, the decision is a twofold one. It is a decision that I make and a decision that he makes. Now if later I find that it was a mistake, is it fair for only one of us to suffer when both of us sinned? I think not. Since the decision for his coming to work with me was mine as well as his, and in most cases it was a decision that I made first, for I had approached him about coming to work with me, I have found it difficult in light of this fact to dismiss an employee quickly Shall he suffer, his wife suffer, his children suffer because he and I shared in a mistake that was first my idea?

Suppose with me for a moment that I dismiss an assistant pastor or another male staff member. Notice all the losses that are incurred. He loses his job, he loses his church, he loses his pastor, he loses his friends, he loses his house, he loses his office, he loses his work. His wife loses her house, her kitchen, her Sunday school class, her friends, her church and her pastor. His children lose their school, their house, their room, their friends, their Sunday school class, their Sunday school teacher, their pastor and many other things. What do I lose'? I lose nothing, and if I want him to leave, I actually gain. So because of an action that I initiated and in which I shared equally, I gain and everybody else loses. Most of these unfortunate occurrences can be prevented by the simple act of waiting before hiring and, yes, waiting before firing!

6. Wait before spanking a child. Most of our disciplining of children is simply the parent throwing a temper tantrum because the child threw a temper tantrum. Add to this the fact that no person should ever spank a child in the heat of passion and anger, and you will be led to wait before spanking a child. As our children were growing up, I always spanked them in the privacy of their rooms. I did not spank them in the presence of other family members or guests in our home. When the crime was committed, I simply told the child to go to her room. She would go there and wait for me, and I would wait before inflicting the punishment. I wanted to be sure that I was doing the right thing, and I wanted to be sure that I was not punishing under the emotion of anger or temper. After I was convinced that the thing to do was to spank the child, and after I had calmed down sufficiently to do it in love, I went to the room where the child was waiting, I sat down beside her on the bed, told her that I loved her and asked her if she knew what she did that was wrong. She explained to me what infraction she had committed, and then I explained to her that God had told me in the Bible I was supposed to spank her. I explained that I did not want to, but that I had to, and that it was not because I was angry but because I wanted her to grow up to be the right kind of person. I then asked her to bend over my knee, and I spanked her. Following the spanking, I prayed for God to bless her, and I thanked Him for her. Then I assured her of my love and suggested that she stay in the room for awhile to think about what she had done. I left the room and usually returned in about five minutes. I hugged her, kissed her and told her she could leave her room.

I did not tell her when she was sent to her room that I was going to spank her. I simply said, "Go to your room." If I told her I was going to spank her and then felt later that I was making a mistake, I would have broken my word, so I simply sent her to her room to wait. This waiting time was for Daddy more than for daughter-a time for me to decide what course of action to take and a time for me to prepare to take that course of action in the right spirit and with the right attitude.

7. Wait before accepting a resignation. Through 40 years of pastoring I have found wisdom in asking people to wait before finalizing the decision to resign. This applies to any office of the church, whether paid or volunteer. Many people resign under the emotion of anger, discouragement, weariness or any one of many other emotions. I almost always ask the person to do me a favor and wait for 30 days before finalizing his decision to resign. Perhaps the anger will have subsided, the body will be stronger, the illness will be cured or the discouragement will be passed within the 30-day waiting period. I do not beg them to stay unless I feel very, very strongly that they are leaving the will of God, but I do ask them to wait for 30 days. At least half of the time their minds have changed, which means that they would have been disappointed had they been allowed to resign immediately

8. Wait before giving a resignation. The wise person will not submit a resignation immediately upon feeling that he should do so. He should give himself at least 30 days before resigning. I do not mean that he should resign and give a 30-day notice. I mean that he should give himself a 30day notice before resigning, and no one but he himself should be aware of the decision that he is considering. Many employers are so wounded when they find that an employee is considering leaving that the wound of disappointment is never healed, even though the employee remains.

I have a dear friend who many years ago was pastoring a church. He was being blessed of God in a wonderful way and had one of the fastest growing churches in our area. One Sunday morning the song leader was late, the pianist hadn't arrived, and it seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong! He got up in the pulpit, he was discouraged and a bit angry, and simply announced that next Sunday would be his last Sunday! Next Sunday was his last Sunday, but he has never had the ministry anywhere else that he had there. He left something at that church, and I am convinced that he believes he made the mistake of his lifetime. No one should ever resign under emotion.

I have a sermon that I have preached a time or two entitled, "Don't Make a Decision When Your Decision-Maker Is Broken." Most of life's biggest decisions are made without a sound decisionmaker. A decision affecting one's life should never be made when discouraged, sick, defeated, lonely, sad, angry, etc. Wait until the decision-maker is fixed before making the decision, and if the decision must be made before the decision-maker is repaired, take the decision to someone who has a good sound decisionmaker and have that person make the decision for you.

9. Wait before mailing a letter of rebuttal. All of us have become angered because of an unkind letter and have responded with an unkind answer. We have failed to remember that a soft answer turneth away wrath. We have answered hastily and angrily only to wish later that we could retrieve the letter, but it is too late. The letter is gone. Through these years I have written many such letters myself, but it has been my policy to write them immediately but wait at least seven days before mailing them. Most of them are never mailed, and my desire to have that letter back can be granted. Of course, if one could wait seven days to write the letter, he would be even wiser, but most of us want to write it now! If this is the case, give it to someone whom you trust, seal it so they cannot read it, and ask them to hold it for you for seven days. After seven days, go get it and then decide, without emotion of any kind, whether it is wise to mail it. Upon rare occasions, after seven days have passed, I go ahead and mail the letter. On other occasions, I tear it up and then sometimes I dispose of it and write another that is kind and conciliatory.

10. Wait before making a verbal rebuttal. The old saying of, "Count to ten before answering," is still a wise one. A word cannot be retrieved. You can write a letter and hold it before mailing; you cannot do that with a word. It is forever gone, has forever done its damage, and can never be retrieved! Because of this, every Christian should develop the habit of waiting before answering if it is a rebuttal that he is making. Oh, the words that we have said that we would love to retrieve, but that is impossible. All of the "I'm sorry's" and "Forgive me's" cannot retract a word said in haste.

Someone asked me at a question-answer session recently what changes I would make if I had my life to live over. I immediately replied that I would like to have an opportunity to relive times when I had said some things I shouldn't have said. The wise Christian will oftentimes say such things as, "Give me a chance to think about that for awhile," or "Let me chew on that for a little while." May God teach us to wait!

11. Wait before disagreeing with your mate. If there is a disagreement, there is no law that requires you to make it known. It is not always completely necessary that you express your opinion. The wise husband, for example, will not make a rebuttal in disagreement with his wife, and 90% of the time would be wise not to even express his opinion if it is contrary to hers. She should be allowed to have opinions, activities and friends of her own. Thousands of hours of grief could be avoided if family members just realized that most of the times they needlessly express opinions and that they need not conform miscellaneous opinions with each other. If we could just learn not to speak but to wait!

12. Wait before fighting. This is true in the church, the home or the business. Most battles could be avoided if they were preceded by a waiting period. Thousands of churches have been divided because of hasty battles. Thousands of relationships have been damaged because of quick confrontations. Elsewhere in this manuscript it has been mentioned that a wonderful little slogan would be, "No attack; no defense." Perhaps we could add to that, "In case of disagreement, no expression of opinion." Much heartache has come to many people because at times of idle talk there is disagreement on some little insignificant issue. Wait. Be quiet. Make no rebuttal. If there is something that you should say, you will still be able to say it later. The words that you use so quickly will still be understandable after you have waited awhile.

13. Wait be re borrowing money or before building. This applies to a business, to a home, and especially to a church. That new shiny building that you covet may be your biggest enemy, especially if you are meeting in it and wondering how you are going to pay for it. Most churches spend their happiest years in small inadequate facilities. The journey is more fun than the destination, and once the church has arrived, it often loses something for which it would gladly trade its new building. Now the pastor may come to the people and ask them to follow him, and they may be willing to do so, but a long time before he comes to the people, he should have prayed, meditated, planned, thought, and yes, waited.

14. Wait before making a decision. Especially is this true concerning a decision of any magnitude. Take your time. Let the decision-making process cover most of your emotions in life. A hasty decision is usually a wrong decision; and if the hasty decision is the right decision, the door will still be open to make that decision after you have waited awhile.

For seven months I wrestled with the possibility of coming to Hammond. I can recall going into the children's bedrooms while they were asleep, getting on my knees and begging God not to let me make a mistake. I reminded God that the selection of their mates would depend on the decision that I was facing. Their schools, their friends and probably their life's work was in the balance. I felt that I simply could not make a hasty decision, so for seven months I wrestled, prayed, thought, cried, meditated and agonized!

When the decision was made, I did not change my mind. The truth is that there were times between the time I resigned the Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas, and the time that I left that I felt I had made a mistake, but I had made my decision over a period of seven months. I could not undo in doubt what I had done in faith, and I could not undo hastily what I had done carefully. Just as I had not made the decision to leave hastily, I should not hastily make the decision to change my mind. Again I say, wait!

15. Wait before allowing your mind to condemn people who have left your fellowship. It is easy to criticize hastily the people who leave your church. To be quite frank with you, I have never understood how people could share with a church and pastor years of blessing, sorrows, joys, victories, defeats, tears and laughter and then leave! It is totally beyond my comprehension! But it DOES happen, and when it does, the Christian spirit is to still love the people who have disappointed you. Look upon them as being alumni that are welcome to come back home to visit. Do not allow yourself to become bitter or wounded. Look upon them as you would look upon a son or daughter who has left home to go to college or into military service or to marry. Love them as you always loved them. If they do not love you, that doesn't keep you from being able to love them.

I have heard some preachers talk about the "back door revival" that they had. They often say it was the best thing that ever happened to the church. Well, if it was the best thing, it certainly was not the best thing for you to say it was the best thing! I have heard preachers say concerning members who left their church, "Good riddance; bad rubbish." I have never believed that, nor do I believe it now, and I pray God never to let me succomb to the temptation of having anything but love for people with whom I have served and whom I have loved through the years. Again, you will be glad if you simply wait before passing judgment.

16. Wait before giving your opinion, even when asked. Of course, as we mentioned elsewhere, it is usually wise not to give an opinion unless asked, but even when asked, it is usually wise to wait before giving an opinion. Often I say when asked for advice, "Let me think on that awhile," "Let me pray about that for awhile," "Let me meditate about that for awhile," or "Give me a few days to think about it." As a pastor, I am often asked to advise people concerning decisions that affect many lives and entire lives. I constantly feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders and constantly plead with God for wisdom to give the advice that Jesus would give. There are many times when I feel before such advice is given there must be a time of waiting.

17. In a church, wait before starting a new ministry. Now this wait is somewhat different from the others. For example, a pastor and church can become enchanted with a particular ministry such as starting a class for Spanish-speaking people. This can be so exciting to them as they look forward to it that they can too hastily choose the leader. I found it wise to let the right leader determine the ministry that is started. I wait before I start a ministry until God sends the right leader who has a burden for that ministry.

I was Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond for 11 years before I started a school. For some time I felt I should start such a ministry, but I felt that I should wait until the time was right.

Some pastors make unwise decisions to start bus ministries too soon. Others start schools too soon, and in so doing, time is used for these ministries that should be used for the regular work of the church, and many churches have been damaged because ministries were started before waiting.

Let me say a word of warning to church members. This advice is not being given to you to cause you to start trouble in the church. If the pastor has waited and then presents the program, it is almost always best for you to go along with him, and even if you do not go along with him, it is never wise to cause trouble! Follow God's man! Moses waited a long time before he led the children of Israel out of Egypt, but they did not know he was waiting. To them it may have appeared to be a hasty decision, but to Moses it was after a time of waiting. Paul appeared to be a bit impetuous in many of his decisions, but he. had waited three years in the deserts of Arabia. Again I say, wait.

Jesus said to the apostles, "Tarry ye in Jerusalem." The prophet Isaiah reminded us to wait upon the Lord. Jesus admonished us concerning His return to watch and wait.

Wait until you are sure, and be sure to wait! When a solid assurance comes to act and when this assurance comes after a period of waiting, make haste to implement the work that God has led you to do and the thing that God has called you to do. Let not the waiting be done concerning the work which you know you are to do. Let the waiting be done in making the decision that it is His will that the work be done!


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