A believer’s life is like an arrow in the hand of a Sovereign archer. God points the arrow of our life at things we cannot see. But, before He shoots that arrow He stretches us, and we sometimes say “I can’t take it anymore!” But, God keeps stretching until His purpose is in sight. And He never misses. He lets the arrow fly with purpose and victory!
My husband and I have been in ministry for over 20 years. In that time, we’ve seen people who have snapped under the stretching of the Lord, and seen people who have leaned into the pain and submitted to its process in order to thrive. What is the difference between the two? For the purpose of this article, I’d like to argue that the difference is gumption.
Gumption is backbone + perseverance. It is strength of will, coupled with endurance.
Let’s face it, talent is overrated. In a world of church planters and church leaders, there are many who are more talented than others, yet whose fire burns out quickly. In a study by psychologist Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania, she discovered that the common denominator of successful people was not a high IQ, or Ivy League schooling, or even healthy family background. But, the common denominator was mental tenacity…grit + gumption!
Gumption is about your habits, not your feelings.
Gumption equals consistency.
Gumption equals commitment.
Gumption is built through everyday situations, not just through dramatic life events. Gumption is a muscle that needs to be worked out and stretched. The more you develop that muscle the stronger gumption becomes. What is gumption in a believer’s life? Spiritual gumption means something more than the gumption one needs to complete a triathlon or birth a baby.
Spiritual gumption is more than just the will to hold on until the end. It’s that, plus knowing our life has eternal significance. It’s the hope that our trials and suffering have purpose. It’s using mental tenacity AND the power of the Holy Spirit.
In my life, the men and women who have displayed spiritual gumption have done three things:
1. They practice spiritual disciplines (study the word, pray, worship, etc). They have good spiritual habits. Not perfect, but consistent spiritual discipline defines their rhythms of life.
2. People with spiritual gumption humble themselves. They don’t fake it till they make it. They are honest about their shortcomings and practice vulnerability. They do hard things like forgive, take the high road when gossip/slander/social media ranting/sarcasm is easier, hold fast to integrity even when no one will see it, and get counseling for the mental roadblocks. That last one is the most challenging for church leaders and pastors because, in order to get help for mental strongholds, you have to admit or know that you have them. And most don’t. In fact, there are more narcissistic and chronically insecure individuals on church stages than ever before. Ego is almost nurtured in the modern-day church green room.
3. I believe spiritual gumption develops by bonding with others. And for church leaders that is a supremely difficult undertaking. Bonding happens with transparency, and transparency requires us to be imperfect. Which most church leaders won’t allow themselves to be. We will be “imperfect” in certain ways, but not in the ways that really matter. We are afraid of disqualifying ourselves or getting in trouble by admitting faults or struggles. Take, for instance, the pastor who has a pornography habit, in which transparency is crucial for healing. Yet, admitting this to anyone may get him or her fired. Or the pastor’s wife, who feels anxious or depressed, yet in most church circles this is a sign of faithlessness, as opposed to an opportunity to display one’s faith. So, genuine bonding doesn’t happen for most of us. Yet, God made us for relationship, and a person who will fight the good fight and win will have genuine friends on their side.
So, if success is common among people with gumption, may we see success in its spiritual clothes.
May the success we long for be the fruits of the spirit and a heart condition that pleases God. May we dig deep, get gritty in the hard times and believe God’s word that trials should give us joy. Here’s to more gumption in our lives!
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance (gumption) has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4
Freelance writer and popular speaker, Trish Teves, has crossed the globe as a youth advocate and champion of women’s issues. With over 17 years of experience in ministry and media, Teves has appeared on radio shows, podcasts, conferences, and been published in multiple print and online publications. In 2018, Trish and her husband Dru launched Aloha Church in San Diego, CA. You can follow their church planting journey on IG: myalohachurch
When she is not observing life from a cafe window, she is smack dab in the middle of a wildly entertaining home with a Hawaiian Island husband and four city-bred-but-aloha-loving children.