In considering the Church and its current life in the world, the issues of greatness continue to crash on the shore of my mind and heart. It seems, either from projecting my own need to continue to take my place, or from a true desire to see individual greatness expressed in others, that I lie awake at night thinking and praying about this idea.
I believe that Jesus central mission was to teach us greatness as human beings. His greatness led to a cross (as far as he was concerned), and ours may lead to a crucifix, stage or a smile only on others faces at the end of our days (Wilberforce, for example).
To participate in bringing the new creation now, this is greatness of life.
In searching for some ideas on the concept of “greatness,” I stumbled upon this school project by a fourth and fifth grade “gifted” class.
Though only western in orientation, you may find their chart below interesting. Personally, I believe that every human being carries a greatness factor, that unique expression of the personality of God which they carry into the world. We are the richer for one another’s greatness, whether it flows from a small child, a young woman with Down’s syndrome, a high-end athlete, a man who’s gift is friendship, or from an artist of any stripe. I continue to want to see each person not lost in their third, fourth of fifth level of greatness (mind you, this is servanthood and can be very right, or even just seem to be very right), but engaging most of their time and energy in their highest area of greatness. As parents, we aim for that in our children, often through aiding them in experimenting and supporting them as they succeed or fail. I also recognize that being a father, mother, friend, provider, etc. amplifies in us areas of great weakness as we struggle to keep up with our responsibilities. Duty must win over passion at times. And yet, to parent out of our unique greatness without apology, to know what our shining part is and to not allow it to be buried as progress through life, these are worthy goals.
Jesus is noticeably absent from this list (if we believe his the new Adam, then this is quite a glaring oversight, but not surprising if they are a public school), and I also note that greatness is not necessarily evidenced by notoriety or visibility. You’ll see it in every face you know today if you look hard enough, and ask God to reveal it to you.
I look forward to a day when we’ll see the greatness that flowed in the most hidden of places, and yet shaped a life, or the world.
Cheers to greatness, forged and exposed by weakness, it’s constant companion.