A Christian Perspective on Grit

Angela Duckworth’s Grit was featured at the 2017 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit.  This book serves as a summary of the research she had done on grit, which she defines as the combination of passion and perseverance.  Duckworth also conducted a TED Talk regarding her research (I personally didn’t watch it because I wanted to strictly review the book.  When I finish writing this review I’ll check it out!).  If you want more information about success, read on for my review!


What drew me to the book at first was Duckworth’s anecdote of her father telling her that she was not a genius, and that she never will be a genius.  Normally, this denotes future failure, but Angela uses this comment from her father to challenge her to redefine success.  Angela is currently a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, but she has a colorful resume filled with doctorates, self-initiated organizations, and awards.  So if you’re not smart, does that mean you can never be successful?  If you don’t have raw talent, does that mean that you can never be the best?  As Duckworth would argue, raw talent alone does not define success.  What really matters is your passion and your perseverance, which are both driven by interest, practice, purpose, and hope.

As a lover of statistics, research, and case studies, I ate up Duckworth’s case studies from the companies and programs that we would label “successful.”  From studying the initiation program at West Point to interviewing the coach of the Seattle Seahawks, one question is echoed throughout the book: What yields success within these people?  The answer, of course, is grit.  Throughout the book, Duckworth interviews various “grit paragons” (people who exemplify grit) and discovers what drives them to pursue grit, even if they don’t directly use the term “grit” to describe their motivation.  Her goal, it seems, is to overthrow the cultural norm that raw talent will yield success.  When we have that mindset, we are doomed at childhood.  Conversely, Duckworth advocates that we must find our “one thing” and work at it until we’ve reached our full potential.

Although the interviews and research span throughout the entire book, Duckworth shifts mid-way through the book to talk to the reader about how to cultivate grit.  The second section of the book gives advice on growing grit “from the inside out.”  Duckworth encourages the reader to nurture interest, practice, purpose, and hope, qualities that we must intrinsically decide to pursue.  Even if someone instills the desire to pursue those things within us, we must be willing to take the step toward success.  As the old adage claims, you can bring a camel to the water, but you cannot make it drink.

The third section of the book discusses how to cultivate grit “from the outside in.”  Duckworth discusses her experience raising her two daughters to pursue a grit mindset.  In addition to her own parenting style, she also includes case studies that compare how Steve Young (quarterback of the San Francisco 49’ers) and Francesca Martinez (British stand-up comedian, actress, and writer) were raised by their parents.  She offers advice for parents to encourage their children toward success.  She challenges even those who are not raising children to invest in the lives of the children/youth around us.  The term parent, Duckworth mentions, actually means “to bring forth.”  Whether you have children that you are currently raising, or you’re babysitting, coaching, or teaching, you can influence them to pursue success.

As with most scientific research, the book ends in a question mark, but also an exclamation point.  What I mean is, Duckworth cannot conclusively provide a definite formula that will yield grit (and thus, success) in each of our lives.  However, she does make a point that grit is important, and that no one has ever regretted growing grit in their own lives.  Therefore, you can’t go wrong when you’re gritty.


My knowledge of statistics involves one AP Statistics class in my senior year of high school (a whopping seven years ago!).  However, I know good research when I see it.  Angela Duckworth provides information from a variety of programs: from sports teams, to musicians, to writers, to teachers and students, that will inspire hope that success can be found in any area of work.  In journalism, I learned to beware the one-sourced story.  Not only does Duckworth interview a number of “grit paragons,” but she also indicates that her students have helped her in her research as well.  So, it’s not as if she is pushing her own agenda; she also has students that have dedicated time and energy to prove the importance and efficiency of grit.

I have taken away much of the information in her book to apply to my own life.  I’ve begun to pursue “my life’s purpose” by following a guideline that she includes from Warren Buffett: 1) Write down twenty-five career goals; 2) Do some “soul-searching” (whatever that means) and circle your top five goals; 3) Look at the other twenty you didn’t circle, and avoid those at all costs.  I have my top five, and I’ve been pursuing them for about a month now!

My other takeaway would be to develop a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset.  Through reading this book, I realized that I had a fixed mindset as a child.  I was the best reader in kindergarten, and the best writer in first and second grade.  At that young age, I didn’t see any need for improvement.  However, this mindset caused me to respond poorly to criticism and adversity in writing.  I remember not wanting to write an essay for my final eighth grade English project and just barely passing the final.  I remember my teachers in high school rolling their eyes when I told them I wanted to be a writer.  I remember my eleventh-grade English teacher accusing me of plagiarism because the paper I wrote was just too good to be my paper.  I remember refusing to study English in college because I was sick of the judgment and criticism.  Through this book, I’ve discovered that I could have used that negativity to challenge me to be a better writer.  While I can’t go back and change the future, I can start today (and have started) to improve my writing skills and pursue my life’s purpose.  I thank Angela Duckworth for writing this portion and for helping to alter the course of my life.

To counter Duckworth’s book, however, I would speak on behalf of those looking for fulfillment in their jobs.  Most people my age are at entry level jobs; some are even at retail jobs that have nothing to do with their career.  We are enticed on social media with the idea that we can be anything we want to be.  We can make money traveling the world, staying at home taking surveys, or going out to eat at restaurants, so the typical office job does not sound exciting to us.  However, at the end of the day, we still have to work.  We still need jobs that pay the bills.  Grit, actually pursuing what we were made to accomplish, will take years to get us to our full potential.  What does that mean for our lives now?  What is that first step to pursue grit?  Do we simply keep working at our entry-level jobs until someone magically shows up and offers us a position in our field, or do we quit our jobs on the spot and look for a job more fitting for our passions (or do we take an action that’s a little less extreme)?  Duckworth’s book is brilliantly inspiring, but when the honeymoon stage fades, we’re left to wonder: What next?

I don’t believe that Duckworth meant to answer every question about success.  She claims to have a lot of research under her belt, but even with decades of work, she still cannot conclusively give a formula for success.  What I think she meant to do was to start a conversation.  I think she wants to change the atmosphere and to change our society’s way of thinking.  Talent is not what defines success, according to Duckworth; what defines success is the work you put into improving yourself.

A Christian Perspective

Before I conclude with a Christian perspective, I want to clarify that Duckworth does not claim any religious affiliation in her book.  This section is designated for me, as a Christian, to put in my two cents about the topic.  This is not an attack on Duckworth’s beliefs or research; this is simply me asking God, How do you want me to interpret this with the lens You’ve given me?  

While reading the book, all I could think about was Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man.”  This verse, in and of itself, defines grit.  God created us for a purpose on this Earth.  While most of us spend a large amount of time figure out if we are living out our purpose, God reveals our purpose in this verse.  It doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we are working as hard as we can with God as our focus.  This verse should encourage us to pursue grit (passion and perseverance) naturally by causing us to put our hearts into our work, as well as to never give up.

The conclusion of this book, that there is no definite formula for grit and success, can be discouraging to the average person.  If we dedicate our whole lives to pursuing grit, and then realize that we still “missed the mark,” we may wonder, what was the point?  However, I believe looking at this through a Christian lens does provide a definite formula for success.  Proverbs 16:3 explicitly states this formula: “Commit your way to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”  When we work for the Lord, we’re not trying to figure out our own life’s purpose; rather, we’re trusting God to show us the way.  This way is not void of adversity, difficulty, and even failure.  But God can use the struggles that we endure to grow us and to bring Him glory.

My conclusion?  Pursue success as God defines it: use the passion and energy that God has given you to carry out the Great Commandment to love the Lord your God, and to love your neighbor as yourself, all for the glory of God.

Duckworth, Angela.  Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 2016.  Print.

Book Update

(Quick) Book Update: While I’m Waiting

Thank you for all the support I’ve received from my friends on social media, at work, and in my Bible study.  Although I’m the one who wrote the book, my book would not go anywhere if it wasn’t for your encouragement and guidance. Ultimately, to God be the glory!

To update my followers on my blog, I just submitted my book to a literary agent.  This is the first step on having my novel published.  I should be hearing back from them within eight weeks.  Until then…I’m going to make the best of my time.

What are your thoughts on these activities that I can do in eight weeks?

  • Couch to 5K: I’ve heard about this app from a few people, but my friend just told me today that I can train my body to run a 5K in just eight weeks.  Challenge accepted?
  • Read: I read for entertainment, but I’d like to develop the art of writing book reviews.  What books do you recommend?
  • Blog: This is a definite.  I’m going to continue Marriage Monday, Wisdom Wednesday, and Throwback Thursday.  What other topics would you like me to discuss?
  • Go outside: I’m inside eight hours a day, five days a week.  I need to spend more time outside.  My husband and I just bought a pass for the beach that works on state parks as well.  Do you have any favorite outdoor activities?

Above all, I’m going to pray and entrust my time to God.  No matter what I do, my goal is to give Him glory for using my dream of writing a book as part of His plan for the world.  I look forward to how He will grow and shape this book, as well as my passion for writing, into a piece of art that will further His kingdom.

I’ll be writing several updates about my book as well, such as questions I’ve heard regarding it, my motivation for writing it, and the journey of my story.  If you have any questions, advice, or comments about my journey, feel free to comment below or message me on any of my social media sites.  (As you can see, I’d really like to be blogging more, so if there’s anything you’d like me to write about, let me know!).

Thank you again for all of your support and prayers!  Stay tuned for Marriage Monday’s post on why those you love hurt you the most.


Book Update

Quick Book Update: When Writing is Like Breathing

Hey, all!  I’ve got some honest news for you.  In the process of rewriting my entire book, I have no emotional energy or mental stamina to write a full update for you.  Let me just send you a big thumbs up and tell you that everything is going great!

I had to take a break from writing my book for a little bit because my husband and I went away for four days.  The drive back and forth from our destination gave me a lot of time to think and process.  From that, I was inspired to write an article that I posted on Monday night. Since then, I’ve been reading a book for my Bible study, working, straightening up the house, and mustering the strength to write a chapter of my book.  I don’t exactly have a hard deadline, but lately, I’ve been writing a chapter a day.

No one (except for myself) is pressuring me to finish this book.

For those of you who do not share my passion for writing, here is an inside look at what it’s like to value writing just as much as you value breathing.  It was very late (about ten o’clock), and my husband and I were settling down to bed.  I knew I had to get up early for work, but for some reason, I could not fall asleep.  I tried sorting out my feelings by venting to my husband, but all the poor guy wanted to do was snooze.  After a few minutes, I gave up and decided to try closing my eyes.

When I finally relaxed, a thought came to my mind. No, not just a thought…a chapter.  In the five seconds it took me to gain consciousness again, I had conjured up a full chapter outline in my mind.  All I had to do was write it down, since I knew that such a genius idea would fly out of my head quite quickly.

There was only one problem: my journal was in my purse…in the other room, and not by my bedside.

Did I really have to get out of bed to write down my fantastic ideas?

Then I remembered: we’d brought the mail into our apartment, and we received a letter that had come in an envelope.  That envelope had enough blank space for me to write the sketch of Chapter 4!

I groped around in the dark, trying to find the envelope that I had tossed on the floor.  My husband leaned over and asked what I was doing, since I was moving the bed in the process. “It’s OK, honey,” I whispered, “just trust me.”  He is not one who values writing as much as breathing, but he did respect my need to get my thoughts on paper.  Finally, I found the envelope on which I could release the thoughts that had been caged inside my mind.

And now, the outline of Chapter 4* is safely written on two sides of said envelope.  Now expanding on my ideas, especially on a Thursday night, has been like pulling teeth.  But it’s fun, trust me!


*Chapter 4, as well as the preceding chapters, will be available to read once Chapters 5-31 are rewritten.  Stay tuned!

Book Update

Why I Write (Book Update)

The book To the King has taken an interesting turn.  I thought I was ready to have it published.  I thought I was going to have an answer from a literary agent by now.  But I was wrong on both of those points.  Although I’ve been working on my book since I started this blog (yes, three years ago!) I’m still not ready to publish it.

And guess what?  It’s OK with me.

You see, there’s a part about writing that I forgot to calculate.  There’s an element of my story that’s missing.  There’s a piece of the puzzle that I didn’t think was necessary, but without it, the picture would not make sense!

That oversight, that missing element, that piece of the puzzle…is you.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve excitedly entered into the world of social media.  I’ve invested my time heavily into Facebook, Twitter (@writing_free1) and now Instagram (@writing_free1). Through these avenues, I’ve met so many interesting people, and I’ve seen how people like you think.  I’ve seen the conversations that have been trending, the shows that people are watching, the blunders that “famous people” (let’s just call them that) have been making…and overall, it has shifted the way my book was headed.

For those of you who don’t know, during my last week of college (a few short days away from graduation), my friend gave me a parting gift: a journal.  Actually, it was a group of my friends who signed it and blessed me with encouragement toward my writing.  I made a decision to write my heart out in that journal, and when I would write on the last page…whatever I had written would be published.

Well, that plan started off as a great idea…but then I realized: if I wanted to write a book for me, this would work.  But ultimately, my dream of writing a book is not simply about me.  Especially this week, God put it on my heart that my true mission is to be a voice of hope, encouragement, and light in the midst of negativity, hopelessness, and darkness.

This week, I’ve seen celebrities and public figures misrepresented in the media.

This week, I’ve seen people my age post about how they’re “done” and how their lives are falling apart.

This week, I’ve seen people I follow on Twitter and Instagram deal with the same issues that I’ve dealt with in life…the very same issues that are highlighted in my book.

This week, I’ve been reminded of God’s redemptive work in my life: the work that took what was dead, broken, and hopeless and made it alive, free, and whole.  I may not be able to fix the world, but through my writing, I can point people to the one who IS able to heal all broken hearts and unite us together in love.

In order to do that in my novel, my book needs a little bit of redemption as well.  The book is not all garbage; as I said, it was just written to me.  So now, I’m taking the time to write it thoroughly and with you in mind.

You, my audience, are what inspires me to keep writing.  Stay tuned for my book to be finished. It may take longer, but if I do it this way, it will help more people.  And THAT is why I write.


I love hearing feedback on my writing.  If you have anything you would like me to write about, or would like to throw some encouragement my way, please comment on my posts (whether it be on social media or on WordPress).