Last night, my favorite quarterback broke the all time passing yard record in the NFL. Drew Brees passed Brett Favre and Peyton Manning in one game to take the lead. The game stopped for this moment. Drew delivered the game ball to a man wearing white gloves who will put it in a museum. He then walked around the stadium in triumph pointing to the crowd and met his family on the sideline hugging them and celebrating. It was a true moment of greatness. As a Saints fan, I was extremely excited. My team and my quarterback were a part of a moment of greatness.
The acronym “GOAT” (Greatest of All Time) is thrown around a lot these days. In the NBA, it’s Jordan or Lebron depending on your opinion. In golf, many would say it’s Tiger Woods. In video games, it’s Ninja. One thing is for sure, as humans we love to observe greatness and call it out. Many of us also want to achieve greatness in our respected field or in our lives in some way or another.
The question is, “What if we have the wrong standard?” What if greatness isn’t something to be seen, praised, and celebrated by a mass amount of people? What if real greatness comes when no one is looking? What if being great means being faithful and steady? What if it means being a servant?
Jesus talked about this one day when His disciples were arguing about this very topic. Mark 9:33-35 says:
And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Our sinful nature wants to be known and praised. We want to be recognized for what we’ve done. We want to be celebrated and made much of. However, Jesus says to be great we must serve. We must be last. We must be humble. We must not seek attention or praise, but we must love people.
Greatness in God’s kingdom doesn’t look like what the world says it is. It may look like that frazzled mom who is at home trying to love her kids and teach them about Christ even though no one is watching. It might look like that dad who is tired from work, but comes home and musters his energy to love his wife and kids well and show them compassion and the love of Christ. It may look like a regular church member sharing Christ with their co-workers and doing jobs that don’t garner much praise at the church, but still need done. It might be those who are serving in foreign contexts and no one even knows they’re there.
I’m convinced that when we stand among the saints in eternity, greatness will look a lot different than what we perceive it to be here on earth. We live in a time where gaining an audience through blogs, podcasts, youtube, etc. is easy. However, being a consistent servant when no one is watching takes the power of the Holy Spirit.
Ultimately, we observe greatness when we look to the cross. Christ, being God, didn’t demand equality with God, but humbled Himself and served sinners and went to a cross to be unjustly murdered. He who should’ve been first became last so that we who fully deserved to be last could be adopted by the Father as sons and daughters. All glory be to Jesus the true GOAT!