People who study spelling bee contestants (some people clearly have too much time on their hands) say that the winners are characterized by an interesting dynamic. At the top level, national spelling bee winners cannot be predicted by IQ or grade point average or test scores. Researchers say that those who perform at the highest level are the students who are willing to keep looking at flash cards and drilling and practicing long after everybody else gives up.

Which leads to the next question: what enables some students to keep at it when everybody else is watching Gilligan's Island reruns or playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2? (Bonus points if you understand both references.)

The answer is grit.

The ability to endure. The capacity to continue a worthwhile activity in the face of boredom, frustration, pain, or lack of immediate gratification. Grit predicts effectiveness far more than natural talent or genetic endowments. Over time, grit is what separates fruitful lives from aimlessness.

So I have been thinking a lot about grit lately. Over the last several months, since we did a staff re-structure, I have embraced a whole lot more leadership functions for our church and staff. I've needed to re-structure my time, my energy deployment, my activities, my goals, and the way I'll be evaluated. I am being stretched in ways that are wonderful but often deeply challenging. (In ministry, like in yoga, stretching should not cause sharp sudden damaging pain, but it always goes beyond what's comfortable.)

Our leadership team is looking together at how we articulate the strategic framework that can enable us to make ministry decisions that are coherent instead of random or episodic. We're looking at how we can own a framework that empowers ...

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Patience  |  Perseverance  |  Purpose  |  Soul
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