Angela Lee Duckworth gives a great TED talk which you can watch below. As I listened to it I wondered if this is what makes people successful in ministry? Clergy need grit which Angela defines as “passion and preserving for very long time goals, having stamina, sticking with your future.” Dictionary.com defines it as courage and resolve. This is a personality trait that is needed in ministry but one that wasn’t really discussed in seminary or even in my pre-ordination conference small groups. Ministry needs grit.
Why do we hide the realty that to change a social system like a congregation which is embedded into families and community will take a ton of courage and resolve. To move a group of people who have grown up, know each other, and lived with one another longer than you have been alive takes an immense amount of grit. It is a long game, a marathon as Angela puts it. Clergy, especially in my denomination of United Methodist, work within a local system (the local church) and a middle system (districts) within a larger systems (conference/denomination). Grit is needed to get through the red tape to accomplish anything and even more to make any type of changes.
Angela confesses that work still needs to be done to learn how to teach people the characteristic of grit. But now that I know what it is, I am on the look out for it. I am looking for leaders in my congregation who don’t mind the long game, the marathon, and who have the stamina to see things through. I hope I can see grit as one of my personality traits but I think that will come with time.
What do you think? Is grit a key characteristic of a successful minister?