a few days ago, i was asked to share with a group of ladies on the topic “stepping into your greatness.” it was a bit of a challenge for me because 1) i’m not sure if i’ve done that yet and 2) i wasn’t quite sure how to explain how to step into something as big and grand as “greatness.”
it was an interesting study as i prepared – we live in a world and time where we as women are under pressure to be “boss babes” and “queens”… which, heck yeah we can be!! but not just for women, even for men, the picture of success and greatness that we are mostly given can drive us to chase after the material, the trappings of wealth, the illusion of influence and becoming social network legends…yet i feel like it somehow diminishes our “normal” and “ordinary” and perhaps makes us feel like we aren’t great or aren’t achieving incredible things because we are just doing every-day kinda stuff.
what is greatness? well, our point of reference determines our definition. if we are looking at it from the world’s perspective, it is quickly defined – success, a big bank account, influence, lots of “likes” and “followers,” beauty, prestige, popularity, notable achievements….
yet the Bible describes greatness very differently than the definition we are bombarded with by the world…
“the greatest among you will be the one who always serves others from the heart. remember this: if you have a lofty opinion of yourself and seek to be honored, you will be humbled. but if you have a modest opinion of yourself and choose to humble yourself, you will be honored.” – matthew 23:11-12 (the passion translation)
“the greatest” defined by Jesus is “the one who always serves.” i like how we are told to “remember this” – Jesus knew it would take intentional remembering in a culture that constantly tells us to seek honor and lift ourselves up.
to embrace that kind of greatness, we must be willing to embrace the ordinary, the simple, the small, the service…not just the big and grand and celebrated and seen.
what seems like greatness here on earth may not translate to greatness in heaven and vice versa… i think we might be surprised on judgement day. what we thought mattered so much might not rank high to Him, and what we tended to overlook and underrate was actually of utmost importance to Him. we are establishing our “greatness ranking” in heaven during our time on earth – and that will stay with us for eternity.
satan will do anything he can to interrupt us from our purpose and often that is the simple task of making serving look unappealing. even when we get the promotion and the big bank accounts and the things we so desire…are we attaining them to serve? do we long for them so that we can grow in our capacity and ability to serve even more? from Scripture, i don’t see much emphasis on what we materially gain or don’t – i see far greater emphasis on what we do with what we gain…or don’t do.
God desires us to do great things in this lifetime, yes, but what does that mean for Him? would He consider building an incredible corporation greater than raising an incredible child? would He want us to have large sums of money in a bank account or a big heart of love to buy the hungry a loaf of bread and packet of milk to remind them that they are seen? i don’t think He’s against us building corporations and having large sums of money, not at all…but i think we can never lose touch with our “for what??”
all we see clearly see in Scripture about when our lives are judged is, first of all, salvation (our names being in the Lamb’s book of life), then words, motives, faithfulness, purity, knowing Him…He will say “I was hungry…I was naked…I was in prison…” and want to know how we met those needs by how we did it to the “least of these” on earth…there is no mention of bank accounts, size of houses, types of cars, instagram followers…none.
if prestige and influence and monetary wealth will impress Him, woe to us who are doing ordinary life! but truly, i don’t think they will…i think He will be impressed with how we used whatever He entrusted to us, big or small. it’s our “for what” that moves His heart. you build a big business empire… for what? to serve more? we can look at grand accomplishments and applaud those achieving them by declaring “you are doing great!” but are they? according to Jesus’ definition, that literally would translate to “you are doing serving!” if they are serving and loving and using every platform as a place to uphold what is most valuable to God’s heart, then YES, YES, YES. but sometimes it’s the tired mama who has washed 7 loads of laundry and sung hundreds of lullabies and read so many Bible stories and prays over scraped knees and sore throats that needs to hear that acclamation – you are doing great. you are doing GREAT THINGS in the eyes of God. He will not say “well done, My good and faithful social media influencer.” He will say “My good and faithful servant.”
let me say again, i don’t think God is against us building and thriving and succeeding in business or in any other circle… not at all. deuteronomy 8 says it is God Who gives us the power to create wealth…but that verse ends with the “for what?”
“but you shall remember [with profound respect] the Lord your God, for it is He Who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant…” – deuteronomy 8:18 (emphasis mine)
God gives the power to make wealth for the greatest “for what?” of the ages… to see His covenant established and confirmed. can He trust you with that? not with wealth and influence and success…can He trust you to use them towards His “for what?”…??
i think it’s key to remember that the enemy is also well able to promise (and grant) wealth, prestige, worldly success and influence – it is what he offered Jesus in exchange for worship! he does the same today. what separates the sacred from the secular is its use. a one thousand shilling note could be used two different ways – to feed the poor or to pay a prostitute for immoral services. the same note is defined by its use…that is true of anything – music, drugs, sex, influence, wealth…even what i do with my life, whether is is sacred or secular, is determined by what i use it for. am i accepting the enemy’s offer of wealth in exchange for my worship (devotion, allegiance, worth-ship) or am i accepting God’s power to create wealth to see His heart, His covenant, His dream established in the earth?
God is looking at how we handle the “small” to determine our trustworthiness for the “big” – “the one who manages the little he has been given with faithfulness and integrity will be promoted and will be trusted with greater responsibilities. but those who cheat with the little they have been given will not be considered trustworthy to receive more.” – luke 16:10 (the passion translation)
when God looks at me, am i “considered trustworthy” for the “more”? does He look at how i am handling the little i have been given and see me doing it with faithfulness and integrity? i may feel that God can trust me with more, but i am proving it right now. am i showing my capability of handling more?
we often pray “Lord, give me a spouse! give me a promotion! give me wealth! give me influence!” and i think so often He is saying “I want to… but look at what you are doing with what I already gave you!”
think of what you have RIGHT NOW (even if you consider it little or insignificant). your season as a single person. your current bank account. the influence you have right now. the person in need you passed on the street this week. your spouse. your kids. your current workplace. your current whatsapp conversations. your season of challenge… are you handling it with faithfulness and integrity? are you serving there? are you using it for His glory and for His purpose? are you using it all for His “for what?”
maybe, instead of just asking for more, we need to show ourselves worthy of being trusted with more. and maybe we need to ask ourselves this question – ultimately, do i want greatness here or greatness there the most?
because if i want to just enjoy greatness for the few years i have on earth, i will chase after the temporal things with all i have. but if i want to enjoy greatness forever, then i will serve, and i will see the little as so much bigger than i could imagine and i will guard my heart of service and i will guard my “for what?” even in my earthly “greatness.”
for those of you who are making lots of money, building huge social networks, landing contracts and gaining influence, amassing followers and wealth and climbing the corporate ladder with integrity…as long as you are doing it for His “for what?” and remembering what it is all for at the end of the day, keeping your heart of service protected and shielded from the motives of this day and age… hear this and be encouraged afresh to keep it true…
“you are doing great.”
and for those of you who are way more overlooked and far less celebrated – whose days consist of homeschooling, washing dishes, being excellent in a job you’re not really loving, buying bread and milk for that guy on the street, showing up for that volunteer position even when you’re tired, giving that 50bob faithfully in the offering, being kind on whatsapp conversations that have turned into tearing someone down, sending thoughtful texts, praying for people, baking cookies for your small group, doing the seemingly mundane and ordinary with great faithfulness, serving others from the heart… hear this, with all of heaven backing it up…
“you are doing great.”