I thought I might write a bit about greatness, since it’s been on my mind the past few months. I’ve had some people say they don’t see me ever achieving anything great. Honestly, such statements were quite stinging to hear. I don’t think anybody likes hearing that not much is expected from them.
But then I got to thinking, what is greatness, anyway?
I think my notion of what greatness is is changing. I used to be shocked and flattered every time someone said they could imagine me being someone great or doing something great. It was something I never got tired of hearing. Or imagining. I smiled at the thought of speaking at large conferences and writing popular/spiritually significant books bearing my name. Still, after so many times of hearing “you’ll be great,” or “you are great,” the reaction of flattery evolves into something more along the lines of expectancy. You start expecting that to be said of you, and if it’s not, something is wrong. I had crossed that line into expectancy, so at the first hint of a challenge to my own perceived greatness, I was shocked. They didn’t see it. The broken record wasn’t playing back anymore. Something was obviously wrong with them. But then I started thinking, Maybe it’s not their perception, but mine. Maybe my idea of greatness isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. . .
And looking back now, I don’t think it was.
The way I see it (at least at the moment–I’m still learning), greatness is being confident in who God made you to be and doing what God calls you to do. As I told a friend the other day, if God has carved significance on your heart, I think you’ll know, because it won’t settle well in your spirit if anyone suggests otherwise. If God has planted something big on your heart, be confident in it. Because you know it’s from God, you can be confident without much fear of pride. The problem comes in when you stop seeking God’s greatness and start acquiring more interest in your own greatness. I think the key to being confident instead of prideful is to always keep greatness in the proper perspective. Greatness is 1-defined by God. And remember, many of the people in Scripture who God called great weren’t very spectacular in a traditional sense. Yes, I realize this significantly lowers the standards of who can be great; before you know it, I’ll be saying that even the garbage man can be great. Guess what? He can. In the realm of true greatness, you don’t care if anybody ever knows who you were. You only care that God knows who you are. 2-Greatness is fleeting; God Who grants greatness is everlasting. When put in that context, which is really worth pursuit? Have a goal greater than greatness; pursue God. If you depend on greatness, you’ll undeniably fail. God was there long before greatness ever came knocking, and He’ll be there long after your time of influence is gone. Fix your eyes on Him and let greatness fall where it may.
However, greatness isn’t just about confidence in who God made you to be. It’s also about action. Greatness is nothing but an elaborate facade if it never does anything. Having your name attached to a book, or a plaque, or a grant, or a title doesn’t make you great. There have been plenty of kings and powerful people who had great titles but weren’t themselves great. Why? Because they never put that God-given influence to work. I venture to say even greatness that only does work with a white-gloved hand is only feigned greatness. Anybody can send money halfway around the world to some vague charity. Money helps, don’t get me wrong, but I think the real heroes are the people who actually go and do and get their hands dirty. Even if it’s just going across the street to help and elderly widow. On the other hand, there have been many plain, ordinary people who have had lasting significance. The way they lived made greatness shine out of them; it wasn’t a matter of status at all. How many ordinary people in your life have helped you in a critical moment, despite the act seeming miniscule to the outside world? What was miniscule to the world was monumental to you. I’d call that great; having the discernment and wisdom to impart a bit of hope at just the right moment.
Am I saying all high-ranking people are only hollow shells of greatness? No, not by any means. However, I think we all face that risk, especially if we seek out significance instead of seeking God.
So, this is my unofficial resignation. I am dropping out of the rat race, and I must admit, it’s kind of freeing. Screw greatness. Screw what other people say. Imperfect and weak as I am, I want to seek God. As long as He thinks I’m great, nothing else matters. As long as He thinks I’m great, I’m. . . well, great. Who knows–if I ever write a book, I may just omit an author photo altogether and write under a pseudonym. Besides, the point of a writing ministry is to get God’s ministering message out to people. Not to be hailed by people as a great messenger. Besides, what do people really know about true greatness anyway.