I recently met someone whose ministry and reputation I’d admired long-distance for years. Circumstances surrounding our meeting, however, shattered that admiration. When things didn’t go as she’d planned, this esteemed leader inappropriately placed blame and verbally filleted those who tried to assist her, myself included. The episode stunned me and left me feeling physically ill for hours. It also caused me to think twice about what makes a person great.
Is greatness based on one’s ability to deliver in-depth Bible messages? Is it founded in the ability to raise tons of money for worthwhile causes, or write NYT bestsellers? Is it about possessing dynamic leadership skills or being super-smart? I’m afraid not.
True greatness is marked by servanthood. This doesn’t mean we behave like doormats. It means we honor others and esteem them as more important than ourselves. People who are truly great model Christ, who emptied Himself of His rights as God and gave His life for others’ eternal well-being.
When I think of people I label great, I recall a senior named Maude. Widowed in middle-age, she raised her kids alone and cleaned houses to support them. I was a young mom with two small kids when I met her. Months later, when kidney stones complicated my third pregnancy, Maude babysat my toddlers and helped provide meals. Later, she taught me how to preserve peaches and pears.
Maude’s sweet influence extended far beyond my home. Always cheerful, she spoke only positive words to encourage those around her. And she never hesitated to get her hands dirty, literally—her self-appointed task at church was pulling weeds from the flower beds. She was neither an upfront leader nor a studied teacher, yet, in my opinion, she portrayed greatness.
Mark 10:31 says, “But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.” This verse means more to me since my encounter with that ministry leader. God’s value system differs from ours, and His definition of greatness differs, too. May He grant us humble hearts and a desire to model greatness in His eyes.
Question: What individual do you regard as great, and why?