One of my favorite passages is from 2 Kings 3. At this time the Kings of Israel, Judah and Edom have tried to do everything on their own to lead their armies to attack Moab. As they realize they don’t have any options left and will not likely be able to win, they desperately ask the Prophet Elisha to inquire of God. And these are the first instructions that Prophet Elisha gives in 2 Kings 3:16-18 (NASB):

“For thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not see wind nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, both you and your cattle and your beasts. 18 This is but a slight thing in the sight of the Lord; He will also give the Moabites into your hand.’”

The armies would then go dig ditches in hopes that the Lord would provide the necessary water for their success. I LOVE THEIR GRIT to get to work with only the HOPE that God would deliver! Why is that gritty-ness so attractive? How much faith did they have in God that he would show up?!?!

Have you ever compared your ministry or impact to another’s highlight reel? Sometimes it leads to an amazing celebration for a friend, but can also lead to a disheartened view of your own reality. I think it’s so easy to get caught up looking at someone else’s performance and forgetting about the process it took to get there. We often take our eyes off of who we have been called to have an impact on and get caught up in our insecurities.

As I reflect on some of the people who have had the most significant impact on me, there was always a sacrifice of their time and energy that reinforced how valuable I was.

I have so much gratitude for the GRIT in the leaders that have come before me.

I have fallen in love with the concept of GRIT over the past few years. Here are a few definitions that have stuck out to me:

“firmness of mind or spirit:  unyielding courage in the face of hardship”

“mental toughness and courage”

“perseverance and passion for long-term goals”

When I read those, I am thankful for the leaders before me that modeled that type of “gritty-ness.” They were the ones that sought me out when I thought I had my life together. They were the ones that made time for me to ask the hard questions. They were the ones that allowed me to experience God’s grace yet at the same time reminded me of God’s truth. And it was in their “gritty-ness” that I learned how to lead others. Here are a few of my reflections on the idea of GRIT in ministry.

I believe that in ministry “Your GRIT will lead to significant gains.”

  • Your grit to spend time with the student that has had mountain-top experiences but frustrates you.
  • Your grit to engage students on their turf. Often we are waiting for them to come to us. Are you pushing past the initial moments of rejection or fear to create new opportunities?
  • Your grit to not let your leadership be limited to “being buddies” with your leaders or students, but to challenge them to pursue Christ more than comfort!
  • Your grit to not substitute ministry for your own personal relationship with Jesus. This is HUGE!!! Our leadership is an overflow of our own walk with God. Are you willing to make time aside from your job to experience your Savior?

I was reminded of this recently when a college student who had been in our youth ministry told me a story about how some of our team would bring Jimmy Johns to his school and hang out with some of his friends; how before he ever set foot in our youth ministry, we had been in his community learning about his reality.

Grit doesn’t allow you to settle but pushes you to lean into the challenges and see how Jesus will show up. During the years when our youth ministry was at its highest numbers, when I look back I realize that the leaders from those years started at Coney Island talking about life over chili cheese fries; they played ultimate Frisbee at the high school with a group of our students and their friends; they took advantage of open invites for pancake breakfasts for months at our house, and endless amounts of conversations after the weekly program in the lobby, at retreats, and on mission trips. They were the simple, challenging conversations that began with invitations to be part of something different, something inspiring, and something that our team was willing to get GRITTY for.

When we experience these moments of life change in students because we sacrificed our time, I have found my GRIT grows with my gratitude. The more gratitude I have for the calling that God has placed on my life, the more grit I desire to see happen in our leadership team. And the more I want to get gritty in my own leadership.

And lastly, GRIT is grounded in grace. Sometimes we feel like because we have sacrificed, it’s only worth it if someone has a life changing encounter. If your grit is grounded in the grace of Jesus, the outcome doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter what role you played. All that matters is that his love, the love that compels people, was displayed.

What type of ditch is the Lord asking you to dig, to get gritty about so that you can witness Him show up and display His Power, His Grace, and what He desires to be celebrated? What barrier is God asking you to lead through? What is getting in the way of being getting gritty and does matter as much as seeing lives transformed?

My prayer is that in your gritty-ness you will see more and experience more than you ever have.  My prayer is that you would lean in towards the voice of God and let him reveal the opportunities that are laid before you. My prayer is that your gritty-ness in your walk with God would lead you forth to impact the next generation!

Justin Warns
Guest Blogger
Justin has been in youth ministry for 5+ years before becoming a Campus Director at Kensington, but he is  currently the Central Discipleship Director at Kensington Church in Birmingham, MI.

© 2016, Never The Same