Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth was one of the best books I read last year. Summarising it in my annual 10 Good Leadership Books for 2018 I said this: ‘This is an excellent, well-researched book all about the power of resilience. The world needs leaders who are robust, disciplined and don’t give up easily. Learn the power of grit.’
We live in an instant culture. The desire for instant gratification is constantly encouraged, aided by instant streaming, instant downloads, instant top-ups, instant credit and much more. Everyone wants everything now. And so often we can get it.
One result of this is that many give up on things too quickly. We change courses. Jobs. Churches. Just because things have got a bit tough. Some change friends. Even partners and families. Because things got painful and they weren’t willing to persevere.
I was speaking at the weekend on the story Jesus told, known to many as The Parable of the Sower from Luke 8. In this simple but profound story, Jesus talks about four groups of people – people who are like four soil types that have seed scattered on them. The soils represent people who hear God’s message but all respond differently, resulting in them each having varying degrees of impact in the world. Jesus tells the story mainly to inspire people to be ‘good soil’ which, he says can produce ‘a hundred times more than was sown’ (v.8) and represents those ‘with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop’ (v.15).
This is a challenge not only to start well as followers of Jesus, but to continue well. Those who live fruitful lives are those who really take hold of God’s message and they stick with it. They don’t stop. They don’t give up. They keep going.
This reminds us that there’s great power in perseverance. Great benefit. Great results. If, rather than giving up, we keep going.
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes it’s right to walk away from certain situations. God knows that. But some people, when things get tough, just want out too quickly! But what if God put them there for such a time as this? To work through the hard stuff?
Stickability. Resilience. Perseverance. They are fruit of the Spirit, which end up producing a great harvest – often a hundred times what was sown.
Leaders need to model this kind of resilience, if we want to encourage those around us grow through perseverance. We need to not only tell but show through our lives that there’s great benefit in steadfast faithfulness. That it’s really good just to keep going.
The nineteenth century evangelist, DL Moody knew this. He wanted to see a hundred-fold return from his life. So as well as preaching to many thousands of people he didn’t know, he also wanted one hundred of his friends to become disciples of Jesus too. So he made a list and prayed for them. He did this regularly and faithfully, being disciplined in praying for them. And over his life ninety-six of them became believers. The last four also came to faith – at Moody’s funeral – when the good news of Christ was preached! Moody faithfully prayed. He persevered in prayer. And he saw the benefits. He kept going.
Leaders – let’s not give up and give in too easily. Unless you know it’s time to move on, stay faithful and just keep going.