“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,
and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.”
– Mark 10:43-44 (ESV)
When we enter into conversation with a group of sports enthusiasts, it usually doesn’t take long for the discussion to move toward the topic of greatness. Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? LeBron James or Michael Jordan? Mike Trout or Aaron Judge? These kinds of questions are popular subjects for the talking heads on ESPN and they always seems to generate passionate responses from listeners of all ages. It doesn’t take long however, to realize that these discussions will never find a solution to satisfy everyone. To the question of Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, what about Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr? In the discussion of LeBron James or Michael Jordan, someone is going to bring up Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. To the generation of baseball fans who appreciate Mike Trout and Aaron Judge, there are others who will go to the grave talking about the greatness of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. Every era seems to have had its own definition for greatness.
The pursuit of greatness and the non-stop conversations about the G.O.A.T. are nothing new. Even those who walked with Jesus seemed to have a constant obsession with greatness. Remember the brothers James and John who asked Jesus to give them G.O.A.T. status and allow them to sit on either side of Him as He reigned in His eternal glory (Mark 10:35-45)? While we shake our heads at the foolishness of this request, we must admit to doing this ourselves. Our challenge is not in whether we pursue greatness, but in how we define greatness. Greatness in the eyes of God is not the same as greatness in the eyes of this world. Worldly success is measured in wins and losses. It’s often defined by what position we play and how many points we score. It says I was named Coach of the Year or named an All-State athlete. Greatness in the eyes of God is about serving others not elevating our own status. Jesus modeled this by washing the feet of His disciples (John 13:2-5). Coach, here’s a question for you, “Am I serving the hearts of my athletes as well as developing their physical skills?” If you’re an athlete, reflect on this, “What can I do to be a better teammate and friend to those on my team?” So you want to be great, serve others and take your eyes off self.
Heavenly Father, help me to see greatness as You see it. Remove the I, me and my from my thoughts today and open my eyes to the needs of others. In Jesus name. Amen.