Rule 3: Cultivate Grit

torah-scrollAfter sharing my observations on an article called “Ten Rules Fit People Live By,” I decided to see if I could do better than the original author by examining each of the rules in the light of Biblical teaching. You can check out Rule #1 here. And Rule #2 here.

In Rule #3, we are admonished to Cultivate Grit.

Grit is the resolve and passion required on a daily basis to pursue a long-term goal. To cultivate grit, you have to commit to consistency no matter what. A fit person wakes up every day knowing she will do whatever it takes to stay on track—whether that means getting up an hour earlier to make it to the gym before work or squeezing in a power walk at lunch. The secret is focusing on the thoughts that drive and inspire you. If it helps to remind yourself how good you’ll feel post workout, for example, do that. If it motivates you to daydream about your future toned tummy, do that. Concentrate on exactly what you want to achieve and make every day count.

I have mixed feelings about cultivating grit. Grit is good. Grit makes people get things done when they’d rather sit around and play Minecraft or binge watch Game of Thrones. But then you could say that it takes a certain amount of grit to get good at Minecraft or endure all those hours of Game of Thrones. If grit gives me nothing better than “how good you’ll feel post workout” or a “future toned tummy,” then I’m not sure it’s really worthwhile.

Why would I want to have grit? Grit allows us to put off something short-term for something better long-term. In fitness terms, it trades a cronut for the ability to walk up the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon.

The teachings of Jesus are chock full of calls to grit, but there’s nothing much grittier than what He said in Matthew 16:24-27 to the disciples about following Him.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Grit basically means denial of self for a higher calling. I can get gritty about a lot of things: money, gardening, music, scholarship, power, or having a future toned tummy. Cultivating grit is not sufficient in itself. Our grit needs to be applied to a worthwhile piece of self denial, a piece of self denial worthy of the One we are called to follow.

Cultivate grit? Yes, but do it be taking up your cross and following Jesus daily. If that gives you a “toned tummy,” consider it a side benefit.