John Wayne, affectionately called “the Duke,” is a legend for the many famous western-style movies he acted in. If you are a Wild West aficionado like me, then you will readily recognize movie titles he starred in: The Shootist, El Dorado, Big Jake, and many more.

Of all the famous movies the Duke played in, I am especially fond of True Grit. This is a story of an aging, one-eyed, somewhat overweight “Rooster” Cogburn (John Wayne) who is hired to bring a murderer to justice. The story is filled with twists and turns as Cogburn tracks down the “hit man,”  is outnumbered by numerous foes, and overcomes great obstacles—demonstrating that he has “true grit.”

A person who has “grit” is someone who lives with the mindset that failure is not the end of things. Not only does a person with true grit not tuck tail and run when faced with opposition—they don’t give up when there is no hope in sight. Studies have actually shown the the highest predictor of success for a person is not genetics, intelligence, maturity, money, or looks. It is whether a person has grit or not. Will they hang in and overcome? Will they stick to a task and not give up? Do they live life like a sprint or a marathon? Those that have grit are in for the long haul! This is why they succeed more than any others.

As I reflect on this, I can see that the heroes of the Bible all shared a “true grit” mindset. Abraham persevered while following God’s direction to leave his home for a new land (Gen. 12) and he did the same when it came to believing God’s promise that he would have a son (Gen. 17 ). Joseph, sold into slavery, thrown in prison, and surviving in a foreign land, cut off from his family, also lived with true grit. This is certainly true of the apostles as well, especially Paul, who we know was beaten, whipped, adrift in the open sea, stoned—and yet he still pressed on with his mission. And of course, Jesus is at the top of the list of those with “true grit” as he pursued his calling, enduring horrific torture and death on the cross.

God is always looking for people who will follow Him through thick and thin, in good times and bad, in the face of famine, persecution, and death. To succeed in life and with God, we need to have “true grit.”

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Heb. 10:36 NIV)