Do you remember the “Old Westerns” from television and movies years ago? People seemed kinder, and more civil. The “Good Guys” wore white, and those wearing black were usually trouble. Roy Rogers, Alan Ladd, Gary Cooper, and John Wayne epitomized men with values. They defended those abused and exploited, tipped their hats to the ladies, and left their guns outside at church. When facing trouble, they were determined and dedicated; they showed “True Grit.”
Merriam-Webster defines grit as “unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.” Grit suggests leaders who were tested on the battlefield, in the desert, or in the wilderness. Leaders that faced discrimination, injustice, and unsurmountable odds yet triumphed. Leaders like Job, Joseph, Lincoln, Washington, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr, and of course, Jesus.
We need grit to stand against adversity and face trouble. Trouble doesn’t come with an expiration date; it can last a minute or a lifetime. Trouble doesn’t care who you are. Your car, house, income, education level, job title, political or religious affiliation won’t matter. It may come as a diagnosis, disaster, financial problem, or temptation to challenge us. Sometimes, through poor decisions or temptation failures, we bring it on ourselves; but it doesn’t matter where it comes from or what form it takes; trouble will eventually find each of us and we may want to give up. But, English actor and screenwriter, Charlie Hunnam reminds us:
Haven’t we all been tempted to give up? In that moment, when trouble finds us, we have a decision to make; we can choose to stay down or get up. If we choose to stay down, like the boxer, eventually we’ll be counted out; but if get up, whatever the final outcome, the fight continues. We have a chance.
What is it that drives us to keep going? Faith. Certainly, but the Bible shows us that faith can falter (Luke 22: 31-34, 69-74; Matthew 8:22-26, NLT); we also need resilience. The Mayo Clinic defines resilience as “the ability to adapt to difficult situations. When stress, adversity or trauma strikes, you still experience anger, grief and pain, but you're able to keep functioning — both physically and psychologically. “There are many ways to nurture and develop our resilience. The Mayo Clinic, cited above, suggests the following tips:
- Get connected. Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide you with needed support and acceptance in good and bad times. Establish other important connections by volunteering or joining a faith or spiritual community.
- Make every day meaningful. Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day. Set goals to help you look toward the future with meaning.
- Learn from experience. Think of how you've coped with hardships in the past. Consider the skills and strategies that helped you through difficult times. You might even write about past experiences in a journal to help you identify positive and negative behavior patterns — and guide your future behavior.
- Remain hopeful. You can't change the past, but you can always look toward the future. Accepting and even anticipating change makes it easier to adapt and view new challenges with less anxiety.
- Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs and feelings. Participate in activities and hobbies you enjoy. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Get plenty of sleep. Eat a healthy diet. Practice stress management and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing or prayer.
- Be proactive. Don't ignore your problems. Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan, and take action. Although it can take time to recover from a major setback, traumatic event or loss, know that your situation can improve if you work at it.
We are resilient people; God made us to withstand any challenge, difficulty, or temptation that life could throw our way; He gave us grit. The Bible (1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT): says:
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
But resilience and grit don’t just happen; they are produced by a tested faith (James 1:3). If we look closely and pay attention; we can find grit being exercised daily. A child selling lemonade to buy masks for nurses, a restaurateur feeding the hungry despite being closed, and a mother turning her garage into a library so kids can have something to read. Despite their challenges, these people choose to look beyond themselves; they rise above their circumstances to serve the needs of others. They show their “true grit.”
Challenge: Legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi once said, “It's not whether you got knocked down; it's whether you get back up.” During times of trouble, it’s easy to focus on ourselves; but Jesus calls us to serve the needs of others. When we do, we not only lead like Jesus; we show that “resilience, courage, and faith give us “True Grit.”
Remember, Jesus told us “anything is possible if a person believes. (Mark 9:23, NLT).” What can you do to serve the needs of others?
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