Do you teach the virtue of spiritual grit in your home? I am not suggesting that your children put sand in their shoes or that you neglect sweeping your floor. Grit is determination in the face of obstacles, an unrelenting spirit, and a steadfast focus on a desired outcome. Faith-filled spiritual grit means even more. It is peaceloving, though not passive. Neither fatalistic nor resigned, it trusts in promises not yet fulfilled. It tenaciously clings to Christ alone and trusts Him to move mountains. It acknowledges our weaknesses and expects God to do what we cannot.
Spiritual grit is central to the life of faith and action that Jesus calls us to. Most of us like smooth paths, but the faith journey is not always that way. Nor is obeying Jesus’s command to go into the whole world and make disciples of all people groups. Like our personal faith journey, this collective mission is a marathon race that requires endurance and hope. The apostle Paul demonstrated spiritual grit when he said, “Therefore we do not lose heart … outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day … We fix our eyes on not what is seen, but what is unseen …” (2 Corinthians 4: 16, 18).
How can we teach our children about spiritual grit?
- Use your Bible to share accounts of ordinary, flawed individuals that God used. Here’s one: Esther declared, “If I perish, I perish,” before approaching the throne of King Xerxes to stand up for the Hebrew people (Esther 4:16). I’d call that spiritual grit.
- Draw from examples in more recent history. After escaping a childhood of slavery in Ireland, St. Patrick returned to share the gospel. Despite chronic illness, Amy Carmichael devoted her life to helping the voiceless in India. Enduring numerous setbacks in bringing the gospel to India, William Carey persevered. He boldly said: “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” Reading books or telling stories about heroes of the Christian faith are great ways to inspire your child’s thoughts and imagination.
- Expose your children to modern-day believers with spiritual grit. When cross-cultural workers speak at your church, take your children to meet them and hear their stories. Every missionary family that your church supports has made an intentional, and possibly difficult, choice to be sent out.
- Model grit every day by your own example. Caring for young children, advocating for a child with special needs, or helping teenagers navigate their academic and social lives all require grit. Putting your children in God’s hands and trusting Him to love and provide for them—that is an act of serious spiritual grit. Let your children hear you pray for them, demonstrating your reliance on something bigger than yourself. Praise God for who they are, speak blessings over them, lift up even their smallest needs and fears to God, ask God to light their paths and fulfill His purposes for their lives, and ask for wisdom as a parent.
Like handing off the baton in a relay race, the task of completing the Great Commission is passed on from one generation to the next. Our children are part of this task and, perhaps, will be the ones to finish it. As they watch and learn from us, let us inspire them to run a tenacious race with faith-filled, spiritual grit.