In Lead more gently/ Purpose

My greatness

If I am to believe the stuff I have recently read in popular books and magazines, I should be adopting a “be cool or die” attitude.   Everywhere I turn there seems to be an obsession with greatness.  Apparently I need to “be a leader not a follower”.

After listening to the latest “you are great and can be successful at anything” mantra, I was left asking myself – does God want me to be great?

On the one hand, the bible teaches humility but then there are scriptures like the one “In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.” (1 Samuel 18: 14)

So which is it?

As a Christ follower, clearly the answer for me must come from Jesus –

“…whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11)

Thus,

  • my greatness is not determined by my leadership skills (even though these are fine skills to acquire)
  • my greatness is not determined by how up to date I am with the latest thing (even though keeping myself informed can help me make intelligent choices)
  • my greatness is not determined by my physical appearance (even though staying healthy and looking after myself is an admirable trait)

If I am to believe Jesus, my greatness is determined by how I listen to and encourage the ideas of a colleague or employee, how I acknowledge and support the strengths of my husband, how I submit to the insightful and wise advice of my daughter, how I defer to the smarts and know-how of my son, or even how I make non judgmental eye contact with the homeless person at the traffic light.   This kind of heart condition will translate into deeds – of servanthood.

Contrary to popular teaching, my greatness is not determined by how “cool” I am, what I achieve nor what I look like, but is determined by how willing I am to serve.

Question: What do you think the bible has to say about our personal greatness?

Feel free to enter into the conversation by leaving a comment below.  I would love to hear from you.

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Mary
    at

    Micah 6:8 comes to mind….”he has shown you oh man, what the Lord requires….act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”

    I think that if we are focused on doing what the Lord asks of us….our greatness is in the right place. The world’s view of greatness and what ours should be are “worlds” apart.

    • Reply
      Michelle Tessendorf
      at

      I love the way you put it Mary. When we do what the Lord asks of us, we display that servant’s heart that I mentioned. The Lord asks of some to lead and some to do something else, such as showing mercy, for example. Popular culture tends to only value the greatness of leaders, yet the Lord values the greatness of those who use the particular gifts He has given them, whatever they may be, for His service.

  • Reply
    Dustin
    at

    I think humility is the key. Jesus and Paul lead by example on this: Romans 12:3 “…I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment.” I sometimes find myself measuring my greatness by what other’s perceive as great and not by what God expects of my heart. If everyone saw our heart and not our “great” earthly deeds we would definitely be in trouble….

    • Reply
      Michelle Tessendorf
      at

      Excellent scripture contribution Dustin. And I agree – it is all about our heart condition.

  • Reply
    Deborah Johnson
    at

    Greatness is an oxymoron in a Christian’s life. When we consider our own greatness then those who are under us are in a servitude situation. The ground at the foot of the Cross is level which will help us to realize the only One greater is Christ. Then we can really serve our Lord and those around us with a heart open to producing the fruit of His Spirit which does not display greatness as one of the characteristics.

    • Reply
      Michelle Tessendorf
      at

      I’m so pleased that ‘greatness’ is not one of the fruit of the Spirit. Good point Deborah.

  • Reply
    Ron
    at

    James 2:1-9 talks about treating everyone the same no matter what their ‘status’ in worldly terms is. So ‘greatness’ to me, measured in human terms, is a very fleeting thing and the Bible tells us that it is should be meaningless to how we treat each other.

    • Reply
      Michelle Tessendorf
      at

      Such a good point Ron, yet all around us we see people clamoring for greatness. “Not so among you”, said Jesus.

  • Reply
    Hallie
    at

    Thank you Michelle for your insight. I think it is important as we embark on new projects that we examine our motivations and goals. For example am I doing this because it will lead to greatness (possibly only by the world’s standards) or am I doing this because it is what God has asked of me (to be humble, serving, loving, kind, etc). Maybe through doing what God asks of us, we can be blessed to “greatness”. Thanks for making me think!!

    • Reply
      Michelle Tessendorf
      at

      I’m so pleased I made you think about this Hallie. The whole point of my blog is to get us thinking and conversing about these kinds of issues and have it translate into us following Christ more clearly and more dearly.

  • Reply
    Mary N
    at

    The problem with greatness the way we see it is we tend to lose that “Servant’s Heart”. We start to feel like we need to be served. We lose the whole point of leaving the “99” and going after the “1”. We stop seeing through the eyes of Christ because our vision is just fine. It is so important to love and serve the people and to never forget we are all equal in His eyes. The “1” is just as important as the “99”. Maybe we should just let God be great. Like Dustin said take care of the condition of our hearts and be humble.

    • Reply
      Michelle Tessendorf
      at

      Yes – how important that “1” is to God and how easily we seek the approval of the “99”. Thanks Mary!

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