Do you ever wonder how some people on this earth rise to greatness beyond what most others even dream to be or become? This can be greatness in any field: business, entertainment, religion, strength, friendship…anything. I, like many others I’m sure, have had aspirations to be a part of something bigger than myself and to continually rise to the occasion of greatness and a life full of purpose. Now, just to be clear, I’m not talking about wealth. Wealth is sometimes a byproduct of greatness, but most assuredly not always. In fact, some of the wealthiest people are the unhappiest, and are continuing to pursue wholeness and happiness like a ravenous beast. Also, being ‘great’ doesn’t have to mean worldwide greatness; it can, most certainly, be regional or local, and most times is. So what does it take to be great? I’ve thought of 3 points that I believe leads to someone being ‘great’. I’m going to work to align myself towards being the best I can be, and I think we all should.
1.Realize it’s OK to be ‘great’.
I believe that some people look down on greatness or maybe mistranslate it, particularly Christians. This should not be the case. There is a difference between being conceited and puffed-up and being truly ‘great’. John 3:30 reads: ‘He (Christ) must increase, and I must decrease’, which is absolutely true. Our view of ourselves must be kept in check, and if you are a Christian, you must always realize that any good or righteous or selfless thing we are able to do is because of God working in and through us. We should be reflecting our Savior, and He was the Greatest. Some of the greatest heroes of the Christian faith are the apostles and Jesus’s disciples. Most were unlearned men, poor, not princes or kings, and still to this day considered to be some of the greatest men because of their dedication, even to death. They were great, not because they went around telling everyone how great they were, but because they lived their lives with integrity for something much larger than themselves. They had extreme character. If someone following Jesus misconstrues ‘being great’ for ‘being sinful’ and believes that being humble means to be unknown to people and perform sub par work, then they have completely missed the point, and are being counterproductive to the Kingdom. Colossians 3:23 reads: ‘Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.’ It doesn’t say: ‘Do shoddy work, only enough to get by, and shun greatness, because only heathens try to be great’; that verse can be found in 1st Opinions 3:23. If I had the option between spending money as a shop with fantastic product from a person who isn’t a Christian, or purchasing crappy merchandise from someone saying they’re a Christian, I would buy the better product 10 out of 10 times. Something that got me thinking about this topic was Steve Job’s death. Jobs, one of the ‘tech greats’ of all time was a Buddhist. Nothing against Steve Jobs, or Buddhism; on the contrary, Jobs was one of the greatest masterminds of media and connectivity to ever live, and I have several friends who follow Buddhism whom I love dearly. But every one of those friends knows where I stand in my own faith, and they know what I believe about Who God is. From now on, the way I live my life, and how I respond to situations is how they might view Christianity. That is a bigger responsibility than I sometimes realize. My point is this, what if Steve Jobs had been a follower of the Christ, how many lives could he have touched by billions of people seeing his incredible drive and character, and equating that with the God he followed? If many Christians live life at the low end of the ‘greatness spectrum’, what does that say about the God they are claiming to mold their lives after?
2. Set your aim.
To be ‘great’ you need to know what God created you to do, and more importantly, why. By asking yourselves a few questions, you can make turning your dreams into reality more tangible. Of course, that means you would have to have dreams first. I’ve come to find that most of the things that I’m passionate about, the things that jolt me into action, the things I’ll usually bring up first in conversation, aren’t things I still have yet to discover, but more accurately, things I’ve already discovered and might have forgotten, or things I have put into a ‘wouldn’t it be nice’ category. Sit down with a pen and paper and write out the things you’re passionate about…things that bring good to others and yourself, and are inline with your morality, of course. Many times our pasts may have even beautifully aligned us towards realizing our dreams; we just haven’t ‘connected the dots’, as Jobs would put it. What are some things you’ve done that you’ve loved doing? What is standing in the way of you doing those more often? Also, just so you know, ‘greatness’ is seldom defined by a job you do. Jesus was a carpenter. No, in fact, ‘greatness’ is defined in how you live your life and the impact you make on other’s lives. In some cases, a person’s profession is nothing but a footnote in a much greater story. Their character and overall ‘greatness’ is exemplified in how and why they did what they did.
3.Every ‘great’ thing starts somewhere.
I’ve said this before but, my good friend Jonathan gave me a book on tape called: ‘The Slight Edge” when I was going through a rough patch of life, working odd jobs and parking cars with a valet company for a living. God taught me so many things during that part of my life. He taught me how to live in times when money was lacking. He taught me to accept that there are times when I must depend on others, because I didn’t have the strength or means to do it myself. But through this book, I came to realize a universal truth – ‘We are a product of how we spend our time.’ The concept was simple. Find what you love to do, and spend at least a portion of each and every day towards that goal. There will come a time when you look back and see how far you’ve come towards your goal or even a day when the goal itself is realized, but only if you actually start moving towards it. We’ve all seen the miracle stories of people losing mass amounts of weight and we’ve seen them crying and telling people how amazing it feels, and that they were living in a prison of their own body until their workout regimen started. Little by little they started to see results, until their goals were finally realized in the end. We’ve seen people emerging from obstacles of poverty, class, gender and location to obtain greatness in many areas throughout history. We know HOW it works, I think the question is: Are we willing to DO the work?
When I first came over here, I knew deep down that I would be a different person upon my return home, maybe noticeable in some ways, and not immediately noticeable in others. I’m learning a very unique language and gaining international business experience. I’ve gotten into decent shape from biking and working out, and eating healthy food in smaller portions. A pull towards a more creative career path has re-emerged. And my love for people of all walks of life has grown and is continuing to grow, even still. I am slowly becoming a different person in some ways, but what made me who I am continues to be the driving force behind my progressive transformation or metamorphosis; that driving force is my relationship with God through Christ. It gives me purpose and makes me want to be ‘great’ in all that I do for the rest of my life. Not for me, but so that I can be a ‘burning city’ on a hill for God, not a covered lamp. We are, whether we want the responsibility or not, ambassadors for Christ…let’s never forget that, and let’s strive for greatness.