What does it take to be like Christ? What are some characteristics that are essential to handling adversity? Ironically as I have been studying my purpose, I came across a very interesting answer. I have been doing research on grit and mindset. There are a number of different mindsets but 3 stuck out to me.
- Growth mindset vs. Fixed mindset
- Purpose and Relevance
What was interesting is that I never equated grit to being a characteristic that is essential with my growth with God (it took Pastor Jenkins to help me draw the connection later on). I have always followed Him. I have doubted at times but I never gave up on Him. I understand that He is looking out for me and I trust Him to lead and I follow. Now that sounds a lot easier said then done, but I am working on it.
I woke up this morning really thinking about how grit can push you ahead but can also hold you back. As a sophomore in high school, my grit kept me from transferring schools a year earlier. I was better then a number of players on the varsity team, and I knew if talent meant anything I would be playing a vital role on the team. That would not be the case. It wasn't that I was not good enough, it was the politics that was involved which I did not understand at the time. It took a parent to break down how a kid who was not given a scholarship would not play over a kid whose parents donated thousands of dollars. In short I experienced the negative effects of a Booster club. Unfortunately, I stayed at the school longer then I should have (or did I). I allowed myself to be held back because I “knew” my talent and hard work put me in a position to earning the playing time I desired (I debated using deserved). I was wrong.
As a follower of Christ we have to understand when you should move on and when to stay the course. When you are gritty, moving on can be the toughest thing to do because it can mean you are quitting or giving up on something you may not be ready to move on from. As for me, I did not want to leave a team that had an opportunity to win a state championship. I felt that playing a supporting role on a great team would be much better then changing schools. We had a great core and I loved the team I was a part of.
For you it could be staying in a relationship that you know you should end. It could be staying at a job because you do not feel comfortable moving on. Regardless of the reason, IF you know you need to let go, you are holding yourself back from an opportunity that could change your life for the better.
An important question is when should you move on? I asked that question before I stepped foot into church one September Sunday morning. As the pastor talked about suffering in 1 Peter, I started to see how grit is connected to our mentality and with our walk in Christ. Grit is the action required to live out your faith. Christ was grit in human form. He fought through every trial, and never gave up. When things got tough, He got stronger. When He could have gotten off the cross, He held on. When others doubted Him, He stayed positive and converted a sinner while on the cross when He was at His lowest (how do you do that). He knew He didn't deserve to be there but you wouldn’t know it. He did not complain, He stayed optimistic and His actions told the thief, there was something more, their was something special about Him (this thief was right mentality, emotionally, and physically to accept as opposed to the other criminal). When Jesus felt forsaken by God, He pressed on and got stronger. Jesus understood the direction He had to take and the objective He had to complete and He didn’t lose sight. He completed His task while staying positive because He understood he was being watched. Jesus dying on the cross was the grittiest moment ever.
1 Peter chapters 1 through 5 discusses how you should handle suffering and why it is vital to your life. You don't hide or avoid suffering, you embrace it because you understand a blessing is on the other side. Without rain there can be no harvest. Suffering has purpose.
Pastor Jenkins in closing said you have an option as a Christian. You can be a Christian and run from all the suffering that God has for your life. You can be a Christian who is a quitter. However, in order to be a Christian who really believes, lives, and embraces the suffering, you have to have faith and practice it with grit. He concluded his sermon by saying "Christians Don't Complain. After thinking about the importance of grit, I modified Pastor Jenkins saying to "Ghristians Don't Complain...They Adjust". Grit is the action shown when your faith is being tested. A follower of Christ with grit will demonstrate faith through grit when things get tough and not lose focus on what Christ has for them. Christ, Faith and Grit produces a Ghristian. It is when Christ not only meets the cross, but He embraces His purpose without complaint. As a Ghristian we to must embrace our adversity, our cross and walk within our purpose regardless of what we are forced to endure. The "C" has not been exchanged for the "G", but the cross has been added to the C to produce a gritty Christian.
I understand now that moving on is not giving up when you have a plan and goal in mind that is aligned with your purpose. If your goals and actions do not line up with what God has for you then it is time to move on. My question now is was I obedient in staying at the high school or was I disobedient in not leaving a situation that was not going to work out in my favor?
Regardless of the answer, the experience helped mold me and it made me stronger. I understand how my mindset, the need to belong, my purpose and relevance must be in line with God expectations in order to get the most out of what life has to offer. I never gave up on my dreams and that experience will help me achieve my current goals that I have set for myself while walking within my purpose.
Be careful because your mindset, belonging and relevance can be facades to keep you from what is yours. Make sure you pray before deciding to leave or stay in any situation. Grit is great to have when you are using it within God's will, but it can also hold you back when you are outside of God's purpose. Continue daily to strengthen your relationship with your Father. He will make it clear what you should do if you are content in accepting and following the answer He gives you ( following is the hard part).