Greatness redefined


When we talk of greatness, the image captioned is what many see as greatness: bossing. May I submit to you that bossing and greatness are not related to each other at all

Bossing means exercising control. Greatness is not! I do have a reason for saying that which I will explain later

Legend has it that British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and his political rival William Gladstone had a date with the same woman on different nights. When asked her impression of the two men, she said, “When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England”. But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, “I thought I was the cleverest woman in England”. Disraeli’s talent is echoed in what Jack Nicholson’s character famously said to Helen Hunt’s character in the movie, As Good as it Gets: “You make me want to be a better man.”

Everyone likes the feeling of looking superior, wielding our authority, looking intelligent and feeling good about ourselves. Our myopic view of greatness has reduced it to “me, myself & I” whilst excluding “others”.  Once upon a time, William Booth, the founder of Salvation Army sent a telegram to his employees and the tradition was it was opened whilst the workers stood in a circular fashion to hear the latest instructions or directives from their leader. This time, it was quite strange because it had only one word written: OTHERS

To call yourself great; has to go beyond how you feel, boosting your morale and self worth to including others. We have many directives on how to be great: walk with your shoulders up high and don’t droop when walking- that is a power position, sit down and cross your legs- exudes confidence, give a firm handshake- that is boldness,  when shaking hands, always pat the person on the back- a sign that I am the boss or influencer in this meeting… Some of these ‘experts’ on the topic of greatness go as far as to prescribe how you should dress- how you should knot your tie, the  color of your shirt and length of its sleeve against the sleeve of your suit, the style of your pocket square on your suits’s breast-pocket, color of socks you should wear and what have you. Everyone is interested in being a powerbroker these days  hence some people’s addiction to these rules and more

The interesting thing to this is after practicing all these rules, you still don’t feel great and have a sense of achievement and fulfilment. In my second paragraph, I said greatness is not bossing based on Jesus Christ’s statements, who to me models the greatest leadership lessons. Let us consider his thoughts on greatness

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭10:42-45‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The background to this story was Jesus, a leader had a leadership team of twelve and now two of those perhaps told their mum to tell Jesus to elevate them to greatness by where they should sit. By the way, if a seating arrangement can bruise your ego that easily, take that anger on your sense of worth and how low of a self esteem you have NOT on the usher. I am a pastor and that is a sacred cow if you don’t live in my world. Ha! I hereby also don’t condone dishonor and irreverence. Samuel and Agnes raised me well to be cultured. Anyway back to the story, the ten were indignant of their fellow guys because they also wanted to be great. The ten were as guilty as the two hence Jesus’ advice which we just read

The twelve walked with the greatest leader yet they had their own concepts on what greatness was. The two members in his core group  lit fire on a hot button topic which caused Jesus to address and redefine greatness. In his words, greatness is serving and be of a service to humanity and not the other way round

Greatness starts with us thinking of others and how we can be of service to them. Practically speaking, do you know the name of your security officer, your driver, your work colleagues you supervise? Do you acknowledge the cleaners in your office? What about the person who may not be as brilliant and sophisticated as you? Start from there, ask their names, be genuinely interested in their welfare and flip the tables on them this time and ask, “how can I be of help to you today?” Greatness is giving the advantage and not taking. It is making the person or people around you better by your contribution.

That, my friend, is the journey unto greatness. Together let us redefine greatness

Till, I come your way again

Peace and Love

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