In Grab a Towel I write that Christ-centred servant leaders need to have ‘steel in their spine’ – the gritty resolve to persevere through all the challenges they face. One way that God develops our grit is through tough circumstances and situations which test our character and strengthen our resolve to follow Him through thick and thin.
As with many things about being a Christ-centred servant leader – I have learned that this doesn’t happen automatically but involves making the right choices when testing times come. Gritty leaders choose to dig-deep, press on, and keep moving forward… knowing that how they respond to difficult circumstances will define their legacy as a leader.
What follows are the words of five phenomenal leaders who certainly had steel in their spine… and they provide us with five decisions that gritty leaders will need to make if they want to stick it out for the long haul.
1. Decide to persevere: William Carey
‘If one should think it worth his while to write my life, I will give you a criterion by which you may judge of its correctness. If he gives credit for being a plodder, he will describe me justly. Anything beyond this will be too much. I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.’
2. Decide to never give in: Winston Churchill
Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in… never yield to any force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
3. Decide to fight for others – particularly those less fortunate than ourselves
While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight. While little children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight. While men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight. While there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight – I’ll fight to the very end!’
4. Decide to finish well: The Apostle Paul
‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.’
5. Decide to count the cost of obedience: Jesus Christ
‘Not my will, but yours be done.’
These words were spoken by Jesus Christ (see Luke 22:42) just before he was arrested, tried and crucified – he made a conscious decision to obey God no matter what. This is the ultimate decision we need to take… to obey God’s call on our life. It’s a daily decision to count the cost and realise that, obedience to God, is always the best decision we can make.
When we make these gritty decisions, it builds the confidence of those who look to us as leaders. That’s a great act of service! When people see that you can persevere, not give in and fight for others – then it inspires them to also stick it out when the going gets tough. The decisions we make can inspire faith in others… it puts steel in their spine!