What do we mean by greatness?
In sports, athletes who score the highest, gain the most medals, win the most games are often called great. They are given ‘keys’ to the city, receive medals, offered lucrative sponsorship deals, march at the head of the team through cheering crowds. They are raised above the shoulders of others.
In music and the performing arts, greatness comes with wide acclaim, a throng of adoring fans, huge contracts and deals, industry awards, stratospheric sales.
At schools and universities, greatness is attained through scholarly pursuits – often denominated by excellent grades, but also by recognition from peers and experts.
Even at work, greatness or the aura of greatness is given to ‘high-performing’ individuals – those who are acknowledged to have achieved above and beyond expectations.
The common thread in these examples is extraordinary individual skill and achievement.
Is this what greatness is all about?
I believe that greatness is not only about extraordinary skills and pursuits.
Greatness is about leaving something of value that lasts.
Each person can choose to be great.
That includes the people on the sidelines, those behind the scenes, the ones who perform the mundane tasks, the ones who serve.
Greatness is supporting the star of the team shoot the winning ball.
Greatness is being faithful and consistent in doing the mundane, the boring, the routine, so the wheels of life continue to run.
Greatness is caring for the weak, the disadvantaged, the defenceless, so lives can be transformed.
Greatness is investing in the young so greatness is passed on and on and on.
Greatness is thinking beyond ‘me’.
Greatness is being the best that I can be, not just for me but also for others; even those who are not yet born.
For what is greatness gained just for me? It would be “like a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” That is not greatness at all.
Greatness is about leaving something of value that lasts. This requires a heart that is willing to serve.
Dr Martin Luther King Jr said: “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”