We love the idea of greatness. It strokes our egos and kindles our pride. Nobody wants to settle for good when they’re told they can be great. This thirst for greatness is what made the forbidden fruit so appealing in the Garden. It’s why inspirational speakers are treated like rockstars.
Many of us don’t feel lured by obvious vices of “greatness”—power, prestige, prosperity—we know they’re rooted in pride and contrary to a crucified life. But we’re bent towards seemingly humble aspirations of greatness.
We want to be world-changers.
We see problems like poverty, racism, abuse, and suffering, and think, “not on my watch!” The issue isn’t that we care about the wrong things—Scripture clearly teaches that Christians should seek justice and mercy for the poor and oppressed—it’s that we neglect faithfulness in good things because we’re so entranced by the idea of doing great things.
I love adoption. I love how it mirrors the heart of the gospel and provides a family for a child without one. I love how adoption is a part of God’s redemptive story.
But you know what? It’s really hard to be a good adoptive mom… especially once you stop thinking of yourself as an “adoptive mom” (which adds a ring of “greatness” to it) and just live as “mom.” It’s hard to obey the daily call to be gracious and kind. It’s hard to be patient when my daughter’s decibel level rivals a 747. The glamour of pulling a child out of poverty vanishes when that same child throws a tantrum over sharing one of her bajillion toys.
Greatness eventually fades.
True faithfulness is tested in ordinary goodness.
Maybe we’re passionate about giving, as every Christian should be. But if we get caught up in the idea of “great” we might become workaholics who neglect our families so we can chase that bonus to give away. Maybe we’re passionate about evangelism, as every Christian should be. But if we get caught up in the idea of “great” we’ll overcrowd our calendars with outreach and neglect community among Christians—sharing the gospel feels a lot more exciting than being a good friend to the church member suffering yet another bout of depression.
God isn’t looking for greatness. He’s looking for people who are so humbled by His greatness that they don’t care whether they are small or significant, so long as they “fight the good fight of the faith” for the glory of His name.