Greatness 101: Six Things You Need To Know
Greatness is a topic that’s on most of our hearts and minds, but in some ways it can be difficult to talk about. It’s also a topic that is less understood than we might think. Here’s six things you need to know:
1. There’s Nothing Wrong With Desiring Greatness
It’s interesting in the New Testament Gospels, that we’re told when Jesus caught his disciples discussing who was the greatest - he didn’t condemn the desire. Instead he sought to redefine their understanding of greatness (Mark 9:35). Communities flourish when greatness is encouraged. So the question then is, how do we become great?
2. There Is A Great Obstacle To Greatness
If one desires to become great, then they need to be able to influence others to walk a direction they are not currently going. Yet, here lies the challenge of greatness, because there are strong forces to fit in with the crowd. No one likes to be shamed for being different. We prefer to hold on to our social capital with others as long as we can.
Given this desire to please others, it is not surprising that as the gospel writer Mark crafts the section of his historical record of Jesus speaking about greatness, that he places a deliverance miracle in the middle: a child needs to be delivered of a deaf and mute spirit. In some ways we all need that kind of deliverance if we desire for greatness. We need to be freed to speak, so that we can keep hearing what we need to hear. But how do we overcome this great obstacle - that of other people’s opinions?
3. There Is Something We Don’t See About Greatness
The other thing that is interesting about this same section of Mark’s gospel, is that it’s framed by two other miracles, both pertaining to restoration of sight. The first miracle takes some time, Jesus spits in the man’s eyes (!) and sight only fully returns after the second attempt at healing that Jesus makes (Mark 8:22-26). The second miracle is instantaneous - interestingly it is the man’s faith/ belief that is said to make him well (Mark 10:46-52). It’s as if God is saying there is something laying in plain sight, with regard to greatness, that we need a miracle to have our eyes opened to, so that we can see it. What is this secret, hidden in plain sight?
4. Greatness Is Shown In Serving Others
Jesus puts it quite plainly to his followers:
‘Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.’ (Mark 10:43-44)
Yet, it seems his disciples struggle to take this simple truth on board. Though Jesus gives them the very plain application of this principle - to welcome children who come to Jesus - instead they are found turning children away (Mark 10:13). It’s as though they don’t believe Jesus when he shares this important principle of the kingdom. It’s worth asking if we believe it ourselves?
5. Jesus Is The Greatest of All
In a pivotal turning point of the gospel of Mark, Jesus asks his disciples straight out, who they think he is. Peter, rightly, confesses that he believes Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah (Mark 8:29). That is, Jesus is the one anointed by God, by His powerful Spirit, to be the King of the Kingdom - wow, that greatness!
Yet, very quickly Peter gets tripped up because he does not understand the essence of greatness. Jesus, in the first of three separate occasions recorded in Mark, let’s the disciples know that as the great Messiah of God’s Kingdom, he will necessarily have to suffer in his service of others (Mark 8:31). Suffer onto death. Only then will he be raised into His glory. Peter hears that and flat out denies it will happen that way. The next two times Jesus attempts to explain this to the disciples, they don’t understand. It’s like they are unable to hear.
Finally Jesus explains why this death is necessary. It’s because of their blindness, their deafness, their willingness to serve. They are enslaved to another Kingdom and they need to be set free.
‘the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ (Mark 10:45)
Jesus shows his greatness and glory by laying down his life in service to humanity. He rescues us from the clutches of Satan and brings us into His Kingdom, so that we can all be great, as we are served by Him.
6. Follow The Greatest Servant In Serving
So really all that is left for us to do is to follow Him, in serving others.
‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’ (Mark 8:34)
As we serve others and speak the truths of the Kingdom and live for the King, it will cost us. People will ignore us and insult us, but that’s all part of greatness. We keep pressing forward with the King, serving others with all the strength he provides. At the end, we will be lifted up, and all our serving others will be shown for the greatness it is.
About the Author
Jai Wright is a Christian Minister, who founded and leads MAKE Church in Mackay, Qld. He recently published the book, Life Plugged In: Connecting with the Source of Peace, Power and Purpose.
You might like to think a little bit more about your spiritual health, by taking the Spiritual Health Check Score Card here.