Along with the ‘Godfather’ trilogy of movies, I would number the 1969 version of the western ‘True Grit’ as a personal favourite. Its star, John Wayne, unusually won an Oscar for his portrayal of Rooster Cogburn, the ageing, fearless and hard drinking civil war veteran who helps a feisty 14-year-old girl find the murderer of her father. In the movie, Marshall Cogburn is said to have the quality of ‘true grit’ or persistence because he refused to give up.
Recent research not only proves that there is such a human quality as ‘true grit’ but also suggests that it may have a bearing on our ability to achieve in life. Using an eight item questionnaire researchers found that high achievers have ‘true grit’ because they :
· Have tenacity and perseverance
· Have a passion for long term goals
· Are not easily distracted
· Are not discouraged by setbacks
As an educator, I know that having the dogged determination exhibited by Marshal Rooster Cogburn will enable you to do better in life. Indeed this is one of the many qualities which any teacher worth his or her salt would strive to develop in their pupils.
In a Daily Mail article about ‘true grit’, Fiona McRae writes, “According to studies, gritty children spell better, gritty teachers get the best out of their pupils and gritty adults get higher marks at university. Put simply, grit could explain why some people try harder than others....... Those who score highly (in the eight item ‘grit test’ aren’t distracted from the task in hand by new opportunities, nor are they discouraged by setbacks. They are hard-workers and find it easy to spend months focusing on a single project. And, as diligent types, they like to finish what they begin”.
True grit is perfectly illustrated in the Bible as we read how the early church came into being. Jesus’ disciples persevered with his message in an environment that was far from accommodating. All of them met violent deaths by the political and religious authorities of the day because of the supernatural life transforming message that they proclaimed.
In his second letter to the Christians in Corinth, the Apostle Paul describes the hardships he faced when telling the world about Jesus: “Five times I received from the Jews, the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.”
These guys certainly had ‘true grit’, but they also had something else, far more important. They had personally experienced the supernatural life of Christ transforming their own existence from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Easy to understand once you experience it.