Dreams of Greatness
From childhood dreams of becoming an NBA star, to dreams of starting internationally reaching ministries, to current aspirations of inspiring and leading city changing arts movements I’ve dreamed of being great, and on some level, famous.
I don’t believe that everybody necessarily wants to be famous but I do agree that God has placed a desire in each one of us to be significant, to contribute in some way. I believe that our desire for greatness is an indication of our God given purpose and call in life. Jesus Himself said that we would do greater things than He Himself did. (What those greater things are is a whole other conversation in itself) I think though that those innate healthy desires are often twisted, into an unhealthy internal compass and scale of our lives.
I’ve come to realize that my desire to be great is tied to my ideas of worth. I find my worth in what I accomplish. I want to be great because I want to be successful at what I have felt called to do. I think that because of the scope and size of my dreams, I correlate fame and greatness somewhat as the measure of my success. Therefore the subconscious logic says the more famous or greater I am, the more I have achieved and the more successful I have been, the more I am worth and the more value I have. Now, if one was to ask me, I wouldn’t ascribe to such reasoning. God however, has been revealing to me this subconscious logic as part of the underlying source of my lack of clarity, lack of peace in the processes of life, and somewhat confused emotions of a cluttered life and heart.
In my anxious hunger to find personal significance according to my value system, I seek the accomplishment of big things and desire the recognition or fame that lets me know that I have achieved, accomplished, that I have been successful in my pursuits, , that “I have arrived”.
Successfulness vs Faithfulness
Oswald Chambers refection on 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” speaks powerfully to this pursuit of success in ministry or greatness in any arena. He says,
“In the Scriptures the great miracle of the Incarnation slips into the ordinary life of a child; the great miracle of the transfiguration fades into the demon possessed valley below; The glory of the resurrection descends into a breakfast on the
….If we are not looking for halos, we at least want something that will make people say ‘What a wonderful man of prayer he is!’ If you are properly devoted to the Lord Jesus you have reached the lofty height where no one would ever notices you personally. All that is noticed is the power of God coming through you all the time.
We want to be able to say “Oh I have had a wonderful call from God!” But to do even the most humbling tasks to the glory of God takes the Almighty God incarnate working in us, to be utterly unnoticeable requires God’s Spirit in us making us absolutely humanly His. The true test of a saint’s life is not successfulness but faithfulness on the human level of life. We tend to set up success in Christian work as our purpose but our purpose should be to display the glory of God in human life, to live a life ‘hidden with Christ in God’ in our every day human conditions (Colossians 3:3) Our human relationship are the very condition in which the ideal life of God should be exhibited. “
In the pursuit of a “successful ministry” Ministry becomes like any other profession, some categorical groupings of professional thoughts and responsibilities that I depend on for my own validation and fulfillment. In that way whatever originated as the call of God whether it be art, pastoring, teaching, etc, then becomes primarily a tool of self – fulfillment rather than a tool to direct others to God and glorify Him. Can I come to a place where I no longer need “ministry” for my own validation?
It was Mother Theresa who said that “We can do no great things, but only small things with great love.” Inspirational huh ? I love this saying and have had been contemplating it off and on for the last couple of years. Its truth has yet to fully sink into my heart.
When I look at the great things accomplished by some of my spiritual heroes and role models, I realize that the great things they have accomplished actually is a mosaic of small things done with great love and faithfulness flowing from a heart of love both for God and people, rather than a drive to find their own significance, worth and contribution.
In the gospels Jesus states that whoever is the least among men on earth will be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. He also states that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven must be less than John the Baptist. In other words our greatness is found in our humble service to others, perhaps to the point of downward mobility rather than upward mobility. Rather than seeking to be known we seek to make Him known. Are we really seeking His glory or are we seeking to make Him known as a way of making ourselves known?
When the truth of Scripture and the wisdom of the faithful shines its light upon my heart, I begin to realize that my mind and heart sill function under captivity to the philosophies of this worldly kingdom. In fact I am coupling worldly definition and standards with my service to the Kingdom of God.
Simple, Intentional, Faithful.
My pastor recently told me to contemplate the difference between “Who God has called me to be” and “What God has called me to do”. Who I am called to be is found in who He is. In order to find more of myself I must Know Him more. I ask Him to stir hunger and desperation for Him in my heart. As I begin to seek Him, I begin to submit myself to the transformational power of the Holy Spirit which breeds instinctual and a more natural response to the every day individuals in my life now along with their situations, and their needs, rather than the imaginary masses that reside in the future dreams of my heart. The more I know Him the more captivated by Him I become, the more my dreams, strengths and gifts become directed towards His honor and glory.
Success and Greatness are much like happiness or almost anything else for that matter. The more we pursue it, the harder it becomes to obtain it. However when we divert our focus and attention away from success and greatness to the use of our strengths and gifts as a way of interacting with God Himself that we may know Him more, and serving those presently before us, success at least in heavenly terms comes to rest on us as morning dew on the grass. Faithfulness is the road that leads to success.
Through out this process our faithfulness to the simple things of the present will begin to build one block upon another until the larger visions God shares with us become realized and fully manifested according to His will and perspective. In this way The more we become who God calls us to be the more we accomplish what God calls us to do.
May we be intentionally faithful to the simple things found in the life of the Kingdom of God