The main theme during our 2016 High School Transition Meeting was engaging the topic of what social scientists have dubbed “grit”. MacArthur Fellow Angela Duckworth defines grit as passion and perseverance. Grit is the ability to continually fight through adversity in order to complete a desired goal.
As Christians we approach this subject matter differently than the one used by most mainstream academic sources or groups. We form grit within the broader scope of grace. (both common and specific)
—God in his common grace (Matthew 5:45) provides wisdom and insight from social scientist that aligns with biblical truth. To instruct our protégés to display “grit” is to encourage them to faithfully finish the task that is set before them with excellence.
—As Christians, we are not pulling our ability to fight through tough times through “boot-scrappy” secular humanistic lenses. Rather we believe that we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the gospel which gives us the grace to endure. Two of the ways we see that fruit blossom (Galatians 5:22-23) in our lives is through patience and faithfulness.
—We also made it a point to communicate that we are not (in general) middle to upper socioeconomic class individuals seeking to wag our finger at lower socioeconomic individuals telling them only to become more resilient. Our observation of South Dallas and other urban poor communities would indicate that our protégés and families living in poverty have often had to model grit their entire life. We don’t have more material wealth simply because we were “grittier” rather God in his grace gave us the relationships, opportunities, experiences, examples and resources needed to give us the platforms that we now enjoy. Grit is simply one of the many ways that we seek to holistically develop the lives of our protégés.
Lastly, regarding grit we made it a point to be as vigilant casting vision for grit among our mentors as we will be for our protégés. Mentoring high schoolers is very difficult, as protégés get busier it becomes more and more difficult to match schedules. We make an intentional effort to also encourage our mentors to be gritty.
We then walked through each of our five S’s (Salvation, Service, Sexual Purity, Future Story and School) and shared helpful ways mentors can become proactive in issues that have historically been challenges. Some of those include.
We encouraged our mentors to…
—Regularly pray for their protégé’s salvation.
—Become Gospel fluent (easily able to share the gospel) Two helpful resources are Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and What is the Gospel by Greg Gilbert
—Earn community service hours together → Make a Service Bucket List together
—Incorporate service into your monthly hangouts
—Use the Our Calling App – Resource for identifying local ways to serve
—Start with Yourself (what values and beliefs do you have regarding sex? Are they healthy & biblical?)
—Seek Help When Needed
—Helpful Resources – Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children – Joe S. McIlhaney Jr. (Author), Freda McKissic Bush and Finally Free by Heath Lambert
—Understand that one of the greatest indicator lights which point to our protégés not being able to graduate school is seen in truancy.
—Be aware of one helpful resource in assessing your protégés academic performance is DISD Parent Portal. The Portal is a real time electronic web based system that allows the parent (or the mentor with parent’s permission) to see our protégé’s grades and if he or she is attending their classes.
—Set a high school game plan (This requires: time, intentionality, and prayer)
—Help your protégé cast vision for high school (perception vs. reality)
—Set S.M.A.R.T Goals with Your Protégé
—Begin with the End in Mind
Zach Middleton, Relationship Coordinator