Prudence and patience are inseparable. This is not good news for people like me, but it is true. Here are a few reasons why these virtues are inextricably linked:
- Prudence is doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason. Timing and telos matter. It takes a remarkable amount of restraint and self-control to let a weighty decision come to you as a leader without scurrying rushedly towards an outcome. And yet, that is the one thing we want to do!
- Josef Pieper says that “prudence includes above all, the ability to be still in order to attain objective perception of reality.” Practicing thoughtful deliberation and giving due consideration to the issue at hand – being still – requires patience.
- Virtually every vice Solomon contrasts to prudence in Proverbs is linked to impatience: impulsivity, hastiness, vengeance, etc. We are far more inclined to act foolishly when we are operating on a false deadline and an amplified emotion.
- Prudence and patience, biblically, are both acquired by a careful consideration of creation (Psalm 1). This may seem odd, but as William Dyrness points out, we “are born into a world and a narrative” that we “did not begin and we will not complete.” Adjusting our lives to this reality is “a condition of maturity.”
- All of these points mean that our perception – what we see when we face complex decisions and situations – is a function of our heart and character. We must constantly be reorienting ourselves to the truth of things and make our decisions accordingly. I think this is what Paul is saying in Romans 12:12, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Hope and prayer will recalibrate our perspective and give us patience. Good decisions will follow.