“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:34-7
My junior year of high school, I got a 5 on my AP Biology exam and was taking calculus and scored a 720 on my Math S.A.T. I share this simply because they are worthlesss numbers now. Despite what seemed like an obvious future on a math-science college track, for some strange reason, once in college, I never took another science course and took only the required (one) mathematics course. Instead, I crammed my schedule with religion, communication and visual art classes. Writing and story-telling have always been tasks I struggle with, since as a verbal processor my words will often get ahead of my brain. Yet, I was drawn to these endeavors over the subjects that came a bit more naturally.
Recently, I began reading a great book called Grit, in which Angela Duckworth distinguishes between talent and passion. While, I may have had more “talent” in the math and science arenas, my passions lay in religious thought and artistic expression. As a result, this has taken more intentional effort plus a persistent doses of humility as I have labored to hone my craft. I have to realize that the task I endeavor each week is not the side of the brain I would have naturally wanted to use. This requires me to always feel like there is room for improvement and embrace the challenge.
Duckworth explains that GRIT=Passion + Perseverance.
This is what draws me to Jesus Christ. He did not surround himself with talented men, but gritty people. Those who were passionate but also willing to endure–the failed fishermen, adulterous women, embezzling tax collectors, zealous nuts, the curious, mentally unstable, societal cast-offs. These people had faced challenges daily, but what united them was their decision to do what was hard over what was easy. Therefore, Jesus prioritized stamina over intensity, effort over skill.
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not about talent or skill. It is not about one’s ability to memorize scripture or live a perfect life. Being a disciple is about having the passion to follow Jesus Christ in every aspect of your life, and the perseverance to take one more step out into faith.
When Jesus calls the crowds he invites them to join his little band of disciples. However, the call requires self-denial. It requires a struggle. It requires the loss of oneself. Jesus seems to raise the bar for discipleship in order to produce a gritty faith.
Therefore, when he called his disciples he did not host a talent show, but invited them on a long, arduous, gritty adventure.
Do you have a passion for Jesus Christ?
Do you have the perseverance to follow Him?