I recently read a book about editing your life and making it into something great. It was filled with inspirational stories of men and women who had charted their lives to some great purpose. I loved the way the author pushed me to intentionally craft each scene of my life. However, one thing about the book bothered me. Most of the stories were about people who already had something going for them at the outset, such as owning a multimillion-dollar business or being famous.
What about the rest of us?
As I write this, I’m an unknown pastor whose greatest accomplishment has been shrinking his church from small to really small. I don’t have the leadership ability to create a world-class nonprofit. Maybe you don’t have the money to start a massive foundation the way Bill Gates has. Have you ever seen the poster that says “Potential” in big letters and has a picture of French fries? Under the picture is the caption, “Not everyone gets to be an astronaut when they grow up.” Is that our fate? Do we simply lack the potential for greatness?
My answer is a resounding no. I believe all of God’s children are destined for greatness – he doesn’t have favorites.
God didn’t give the keys of the kingdom to a select few while the rest of us get safety scissors and crayons.
Here’s how I see it. If God’s goal were efficiency, he probably wouldn’t work through any of us. The least of his angels could probably do a better job than all of us combined.
I think of all the times I’ve had my daughters, Grace and Sarah, help me wash the car. Believe me, the point is not free labor. The job takes longer with their help, especially when Sarah gets hold of the hose. But that’s okay because efficiency isn’t my goal. I want to spend time with them while teaching them how to work. Likewise, I’m pretty sure that God’s goal for working through us is to draw us closer to himself and to train us for eternity. Therefore, is greatness found by washing a bigger section of the car? Or does it have more to do with completing the tasks he has given us regardless of how insignificant they may seem?
Our problem with greatness isn’t that we aren’t capable of it, but that we have a distorted view of it.
The church unwittingly perpetuates this distortion by focusing more on celebrities than on everyday folks. But greatness in the Christian life isn’t measured by the amount of money we give, the number of people we serve, or the books we write. Your greatness is measured by how completely you fulfill God’s mission for you.
Instead of feeling guilty for what you can’t do, rejoice in what God can do through you. Every one of us, from the apostle Paul to Billy Graham to you and me, desperately needs God’s grace to accomplish anything. It is and has always been about him.
Adapted from Radically Normal by Josh Kelley
Josh Kelley is a speaker and the author of Radically Normal. He served as a pastor for 15 years and holds a BA in biblical studies from Pacific Life College. He lives in northwest Washington with his wife, Marilyn, and their two daughters. Learn more at www.radicallynormal.com.
Don't miss the first post in this two-part blog series: What It Means to Be a Christian.