Last weekend, I celebrated two graduations.
Our college, Horizon, hosted graduation in our 80th year, while elsewhere my wife, after having two kids and moving between three provinces and across the Atlantic, convocated for her Master’s degree.
I am super proud of these graduates. Graduation is a ceremony that celebrates perseverance, determination, and sticking with it to the end of one leg of a journey. Congratulations!
It’s a fitting capstone to the lesson I think God has been teaching us at our college this year.
Every year, God seems to teach us something new at Horizon. I think this year’s lesson is “grit.”
I take the term “grit” from Bill Hybels’ opening talk at the 2015 Global Leadership Summit. By “grit,” Hybels means one of the “intangibles” of leadership that showcase perseverance, determination, sticking with it, despite obstacles, setbacks, and failures.
Interestingly, several of this year’s GLS faculty presented similarly on perseverance and the importance – and inevitability – of failure on the path to success.
As a college, 2015-16 marks a watershed year for Horizon.
This year we launched our distinctive, competency-based approach to Christian education, trailblazing into uncharted territory in Christian higher education. (See here.)
Our launch predictably mixed successes with undeniable bugs to fix, and we’re grateful for our students’ patience and honest input to make it better next round.
Besides CBE, however, this year we also said unexpected “farewells” to familiar staff and students, “welcome” to new workers, received our largest ever single donation (thank you!) followed immediately by a tanked economy, and many of both staff and students report this year having experienced significant struggles personally, with family, and with loss.
No question: for many, this year has been a real challenge!
But as abnormally challenging as this year may feel, the abnormal is really the normal in Christian life.
In the Bible, Paul, in particular, portrays the “normal” Christian life as one of struggle, exhorting us to “stand firm” (Eph 6.14), “press on” (Php 3.13-14), “run the race” (1 Cor 9.24; cf. Heb 12.1), and to resist our enemy (Eph 6.11; cf. 1 Pet 5.8-9).
In other words, normal Christian life requires “grit.”
But “grit” alone won’t cut it.
The Bible also clearly instructs that we source our “grit” in the Lord.
Paul begins his famous passage on spiritual battle with the command: “Be strengthened in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Eph 6.10). (Cf. Col 1.11: “Be strengthened with all the strength that comes from his glorious power”; 1 Sam 30.6: “David strengthened himself in the Lord”.)
“Grit” in the Christian life calls for more than perseverance and determination. It’s that capacity to dig deep down to get beyond yourself and, despite appearances, to draw for strength not on your own reserves but on the infinite power of the infinite God.
This year, may you find the Lord to be your source of “grit” to overcome whatever abnormal, normal challenges you face!
(To hear more about where Horizon is going as a college, join us at our upcoming Galas: Friday, May 13 in Winnipeg and Thursday, May 19 in Saskatoon!)