On being Great

I've been thinking about what it means to be great the last few days.

I'm pretty sure that most, if not all, of us were born with the sense inside of us that we were destined to do something great in the world, something unique and meaningful. A sense of specific personal mission. Over time, that sense fades for many people, inspires some, frustrates and even depresses others, as they look at their lives and when they do, they don't see much in it that they deem remarkable.

When they are not treated as though they are remarkable.

When they compare themselves to the Oprahs and the Bonos of this world.

I believe that we are born with an innate sense of greatness and purpose for a reason though. Not so that our egos will be puffed up with delusions of grandeur, as we bluster our way through life, wondering when we are going to make the cover of Time magazine.

But because in fact, this is why we were created. We were created for greatness. To be great. Not mediocre, not an also-ran. Great.

Since my kids are closer to having been born then me, more pure, less jaded and confused by the many philosophies of men, I thought I'd get their take on it last night, (in the guise of a Family Home Evening lesson.) I took some notes. What follows is roughly the progression of our discussion.

So guys, what does "being great" mean?

-Rocking at something (Benj)
-Being cool (Gabe)
-Making the world a better place (Gracie)
-Helping someone (Finny)


Ok, so fill in this sentence..a great person is:

-Nice (Gabe)
-Fun (Finny)
-Good at something (Benj)
-Friendly and kind (Finny)
-Cool (Benj)
-Someone you can look to for help. (Gabe)
-Someone who would be friends with anyone (Gracie).
-Someone who would help someone who got hurt. (Finny)

Who was the greatest person who ever lived on the Earth?

-Jesus Christ

And what types of things did Jesus do every day?

-He healed
-He helped
-He comforted
-He taught

Who were we created to be like? What did God pattern us on?

We are created in God's image. -Benj
We are created to be like Him-Gabe
There is a little bit of Him in us-like in Gracie's baptism talk!-Finny

So can we be like Him?

Yes we can, if you we are doing our best then we are trying to be like Him.-Gabe

So what if you try your best at school and you get a C-. The school records that you have a C-. Does God see it as a C-?

Nope, God sees that as an A+ because all He cares about is you doing your best.

He has no interest about where you are on the grading curve. Where you are compared to Oprah or Bono is of no relevance to Him.

They may get an A+ or a D-. We don't know what's going on with them and their best, and what God feels about it all, because we can only know when we are doing our best, and when we are, we have an A+.

So, can we be great?

-Yes. If we try our best to be kind and good we are great.

Even if we are not famous?


Even if we don't help a bunch of people?


So going back to our definitions of greatness. Let's see how they compare to what Jesus is.

Did Jesus rock at something? Yes.
Was Jesus cool? As cool as they come.
Did Jesus make the world a better place. Er..yeah.
Did Jesus help someone? Yes. He helped all of us.

Can you rock at being kind to people? Yes. Can you be cool when people are teasing you or irritating you? Yes. Can you make the world a better place every single day? Yes. Can you help someone? Yes.

Seems to me that we have what it takes to be great.

So simple. We can all have great, meaningful A+ lives. Why do we make it so complicated? So angst-ridden as we try to figure out how to be successful, how to make a difference. Why do we make being great about power and/or influence and feel bad when we are neither powerful nor influential. Or are we? (That's a different conversation entirely. I know I am. I suspect you are too.)

Why do we make it about having a best-selling book published, or being an influential speaker or entertainer, having a beautiful home, a powerful body or raising millions of dollars for charity? Why do we make it about holding public office, or being a blogging super-star?

There is a reason that the odds of doing any of those things is exceedingly remote.

It's not because in life there are only supposed to be a few winners. Because there have to be losers for there to be winners, right? The rarity of winning is what defines people as winners after all.

*Insert Fail Buzzer Sound Here.*

No. It's not that at all really. Not in God's paradigm, anyway.

It's because dear ones, God did not intend for us all to be great in the same way. And certainly not in the way that we tend to define "great".

But He absolutely did intend each of us to be great. And we could be. If we weren't so obsessed with being great, human-style. We know this. None of this is news to you, or to me, yet so few of us really and truly grasp that His definition of greatness is vastly different to that of the world.

We are born with the innate sense of greatness, because greatness is within us, and it is within our reach. And we should be striving for it. What actually makes us great, what gets us closer to that infinitely powerful potential God knows is inside of us, is whether or not we reach out for it.

Which of course means reaching outside of plotting and planning and stewing over what we can do to make ourselves great , and instead reaching out to help others.

Mother Teresa one of the people I consider truly great, said:

In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.

And the meek shall inherit the Earth...

Make it a great day (I swore I would never say that, but I get it now.)

(the above photos are of my husband and kids, my mom and my late Granny. They are all great.)

Don't forget to Check out WFMW at We Are That Family for lots of tips and tricks for better living.

I'm reading: On being GreatTweet this!


2busy said...

This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It seems like so many people look up to and compare themselves to sports stars and movie stars...Well, of coure we will come up short in greatness. We have to accept and embrace what we are great at...

Lynn from For Love or Funny said...

I'd say that you're doing a great job teaching your children the true meaning of greatness!

Nicolasa said...

I so needed to read this today. I have been struggling with my own greatness and worthiness. Thank you for sharing!

Queen "B" said...

Excellent post, I'd like to share this in our family home evening, and all my kids are teens! really good depth at any age,my face book quote says "Insist on yourself". Never imitate. Ralph Waldo Emerson
that to me would be a sign of greatness.
Aloha wishes from across the sea

Janet said...

Very well written and well said. And a much needed reminder as I seem to be experiencing a mid-life lack of feeling "great" as I approach 40.

Jill said...

I like to substitute "awesome" for "great". I tell my kids all the time how awesome I am! I would have to be to have had 4 kids that have made such an extraordinary impact on my world therefore will on others. Awesomeness also spreads like a smile. It rubs off on people. Their best and happiness is enough for me!

Working Mommy said...

What a wonderful post!!! I always would strive to "be great" and "make lots of money"...until I had the babe and realized that - to her - I was great...and that is all I'll ever need in life!


Natasha said...

Aww what a lovely post about being great. Inspiring! :)

Ali said...

Sounds like you've taught your kids well--terrific post and great lesson for us all to learn!

(Just visiting from SITS:))

Marybeth at www.babygoodbuys.com said...

Very sweet!

Wander said...

Umm, GREAT post! Sorry....to steal your word!

Or.... A+ post!

I liked it!

Joan said...

It's always wonderful to read what you are thinking about and how you actualize your life. I have an aunt who I dearly love who looks back on her life and regrets not being this or that. All I ever remember is someone who supported me in times of need and continues to think I'm a special person. Her children are wonderful, she supported her husband during challenging times, and she always looks for the bright side ... until it comes to her reflection on what she might have done differently. Chuck and I are going to SLC in a couple of weeks and my goal is to celebrate all she is and all she has been because I don't know how much longer she will be with us. I would hope that all of us can share how we think people of older generations have influenced us. Thanks again for sharing!

julia said...

Wonderful post!!!

trish said...

Loved this post (and especially the pic. of your Mom...wish I could see them again:)

Jenn Erickson said...

What a beautiful and inspiring post. I admire the way you brought your whole family in to the conversation ~ and the wisdom from both young and old (well, "older", but not "old").

Jen said...

I love this post - thank you, I got so much out of it. Not that I'm trying to be great in the 'super mommy blogger' way, or any way, actually - but life with the 4 little ones tends to drag me down and then I give up on giving my all and doing the best I can with my day. I'm going to try to remember this tomorrow morning :)

Tooj said...

I love when you get philosophical. Often, your words are what mahy of us need to read...over and over again. In fact, I sat here reading this thinking my 12 year old would really benefit from reading it....if only I trusted that he'd truly take to heart what your message is. I might make him anyhow and hope.....

In the meantime, I'm taking away a lot. And I thank you, great friend.