I ran across this TED Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth recently about the value of “grit”– what followers of Jesus might term “perseverance.” It was a great talk, geared mainly toward educational settings, about how important this quality of “grit” is to success.
At first this talk might not seem to have much connection to ministry, but it does. When I observe the difference between ministry leaders who succeed and those who never seem to get traction, the major difference seems to be the capacity to focus over the long haul. Too many ministry leaders don’t stay with things long enough to get the success they need. They lack grit. They give up too soon. Everyone is going to run into failures and roadblocks. It’s practically guaranteed. The question is what we do with those failures. Do we try maybe once more, then give up? Or do we seek out help, learn from the failure, try again, or try with a different approach?
The measure of a person is what it takes to stop them. One guy in the anger management class I teach said that getting close to God was a bunch of crap: “Every time I try that, bad things happen.” I responded, “It sure doesn’t take much to discourage you. All the enemy has to do is bring a few problems and you turn your back on God.”
For all of us, the journey is long and arduous at times. There are seasons where we want to quit and turn around. Sometimes I imagine the early explorers coming over a rise and seeing the Rocky Mountains blocking their path. But they kept moving forward. That’s grit.
How many ministry leaders do you know who exemplify that quality? Consider Hebrews 11. How many times do we labor and not see the fruits of that labor? But by showing perseverance, we can play a part in the bigger story of what God is doing.