“Awesome!” That’s a word I often hear used by many of the young people I meet and teach. But the word is often being used to describe something that really isn’t awesome, great, or amazing…at least not in the biblical sense of the word. The fact is, our culture is at work instructing and shaping our children’s view of “greatness”, especially personal greatness. Unless we intentionally teach our children to know and recognize true greatness, they may miss the many evidences of it in the “ordinary” lives of God’s people.
In his excellent book Humility: True Greatness, Pastor C. J. Mahaney provides a helpful definition of true greatness, and then gives some real-life examples. As you read through these examples, prayerfully consider examples from your own family and church. Then consider how you could use these examples to encourage your children and students toward a life of true, biblical greatness.
As sinfully and culturally defined, pursuing greatness looks like this: Individuals motivated by self-interest, self-indulgence, and a false sense of self-sufficiency pursue selfish ambition for the purpose of self-glorification.
Contrast that with the pursuit of true greatness as biblically defined: Serving others for the glory of God. This is the genuine expression of humility; this is true greatness as the Savior defined it.
Have you seen any examples of true greatness recently? The following are just a sampling from my observation and experience.
- It’s Bryce, the godly teenage son, who honors his parents and cares for his younger siblings–including his brother Eric, who suffers from autism.
- It’s Theresa, a single woman with an infectious laugh who cheerfully serves numerous families in our church.
- It’s Eric, the successful businessman who volunteers each Sunday at our church parking cars.
- It’s my daughter Kristin, who works tirelessly in her home to care for her husband, Brian, and her three small boys.
- It’s Dick, the single man and postal worker who lived a simple life so he could give generously to families who wanted to adopt children.
- …it’s Bernie and Pearl, the couple in their eighties who, despite severe health issues, poured their hearts and lives into the small group that Bernie led.
True greatness is all around us. The question is, do we see it? Or more important, are we pursuing it? These examples and a thousand others are what it means to be great in the eyes of God—humbly serving others for His glory. (2009, pages 44-45.)
… But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:26b-28 ESV)