Perhaps you have feelings for someone, and this person seems to have feelings for you too. But for some reason they keep telling you they are not quite ready for a relationship right now? Or maybe you are in a relationship with someone but it’s nothing like you imagined it to be. Should you let it go or try to adapt and enjoy it for what it is?
Here are 4 signs God often uses to warn you that someone is wasting your time.
1. If Someone Has Exhausted Biblical Patience and Now Needs Biblical Discipline
One reasons Christians are especially prone to wasting their time in relationships, ministries, and business dealings is because we often misapply the biblical command to be patient. Sadly, many of us interpret patience as a free pass you must give to anyone who does not do what they said they would do. This is not biblical. Here’s a few definitions of patience:
Bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint. Manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain. Not hasty or impetuous. Steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity.”1
Patience is mostly about the attitude of the person going through something difficult. It’s not about giving someone endless amounts of your time. The same is true in a biblical sense.
For example, God is patient with us and does not treat us as our sins deserve (2 Peter 3:9, Psalm 103:8-10). But this doesn’t mean he lets us live in sin with no consequences. In love, God lets us reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-9) and disciplines us when we need it (Hebrews 12:5-7). His patience is seen in his attitude of love towards us and his offer of grace. But his patience is not a free pass to treat him however we want.
To be patient with someone does not mean you need to give them an abundance of time to get their act together. Rather, it means that you treat them with respect and kindness even when they don’t deserve it. There comes a time when someone doesn’t need more patience. Sometimes they need discipline.
We can’t control other adults. Thus, the way we can discipline them for their mistreatment of us is through removing ourselves from their presence. If someone is wasting your time, lovingly discipline them by no longer giving them your time to waste.
2. If They Require More Guidance Than the Good They Add to the Partnership
There are different roles for different types of relationships.
For example, a friendship and a romantic relationship have different demands on them. If a friend has a tendency to cancel last minute, it’s not so dangerous if you just accept this about them and know they are rather flaky. You can be distant friends with them knowing they have too many flaws to be a really close friend. But if they are your boyfriend or girlfriend and treat you this way, you can’t tolerate it.
For example, at one point, Paul felt Mark was not a good partner in ministry; so Paul moved on without him (Acts 15:38). Later on, however, Mark must have matured because then Paul rejoined with him because they were now a better team together (2 Timothy 4:11).
Partners should be able to serve alongside of you in a way that does not require an excessive amount of guidance from you. A partner is supposed to serve with you in the ministry. They are not supposed to be the ministry.
If you are in a type of relationship with someone that should be an equal give and take but they are not capable of this, it’s a sign you are wasting your time by remaining in this imbalanced partnership.
3. If the Relationship Is Filled with More Arguing than Agreeing
Going back to the example of Paul not thinking Mark was fit for ministry, Barnabas disagreed with Paul. Acts 15:39-40 states, “And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.”
Disagreeing and arguing are not ideal. But we have to remember this broken world is not an ideal reality. In heaven and on the new earth, we will never argue. But at this point in history, sometimes there arises disagreements so sharp that the only way to not waste time endlessly arguing is to separate and move on.
Disagreements are always going to happen between people. But one sign you are wasting your time is when you disagree more than you agree.
4. If They Keep Asking for More Time
Maybe you two are romantically interested but this person asks for more time because they are just getting out of a previous relationship. Or maybe you two have been dating long-distance and you need to move closer to each other to see if marriage is right for you both, but they keep delaying this needed step. Or maybe this person has a reoccurring toxic sin that they keep promising they will work on.
At certain times, if you feel released by God, it can be healthy to be patient and give someone more time. But if you give them more time and then they keep coming back again and again asking for even more time, it’s best to accept they are simply wasting your time.
As Proverbs 14:23 states, “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.”
Is Satan using someone to bring harm into your life? Here are 5 Signs that Satan Is Using a Toxic Person Against You.