I listen to motivational speakers some days on my way to work to get fired up or inspired. If I have to present to a group that day, it helps me to get into a rhythm or cadence and builds my confidence. There is a common theme behind most of these speeches. They often talk about hard work, determination, overcoming adversity, and unlocking the greatness that is in each of us. Nearly all of them have their own story of coming from nothing or having a great hardship that redirected their life. Some have life-altering injuries and some were homeless at some point. We relate to this part of their story and it draws us in to lean in for more. One by one they each came to an AHA moment where they had to decide to either accept where they were or dust themselves off and dig deep within to get back on track for the dream of greatness that they once chased.
These men and women inspire us through their tales of the indomitable human spirit. They get us to believe there is greatness in all of us that we need to unlock. The keys to unlocking this inner greatness are hard work, determination, perseverance, patience, and a strong desire to separate ourselves from the pack, to be different or special. They emphasize the fact that it will not be easy. Indeed it will be a fight to unlock the greatness within us and achieve our dreams. By the time we get to the end of their speech, we are pumped up and inspired to at least run a little farther or fight a little harder.
Recently, as I was listening to several of these speeches, it dawned on me that most echo an attitude of self sufficiency that is needed to be great. Sure, some had people in their life who gave them a nudge of inspiration but it was their determination and hard work that got them where they are now. I began to realize these messages were similar to the Christian life. There is a realization that we have fallen short of greatness. There is a desire to improve our situation. We come to a point of brokenness and the thought that life was not meant to be like this. Our dreams have been shattered or placed on hold. This is our AHA moment. Awakening, “it’s not supposed to be this way”. Honest evaluation, “I need help”. Action……..!
This Action step is where the separation between the story of the motivational speaker and the Christian start to look different. The motivator comes to a point of desperation and stands up. The Christian comes to the Cross and kneels. The motivator looks within themselves for strength and power. The Christian looks up to Jesus for redemption and restoration. The motivational speaker strives to unlock the greatness they believe is within them while the Christian surrenders to the Greater that now lives in them.
I don’t want you to think the Christian no longer has to fight. That would be contrary to what the Bible teaches and would be damaging to your faith when the trials come. After all, if we don’t have an enemy or a fight ahead of us, why does God give us armor and weapons. We are given a belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, boots of peace, a shield of faith, a helmet of salvation, a sword of the Spirit which is the word of God and prayer which is our weapon against the enemy and our connection to God (Ephesians 6:13-18). We have an enemy that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy us (John 10:10). But, we have a God that equips us for battle and trains our hands for war (Psalm 144:1). The Lord, our God, is a warrior, The Lord is His name (Exodus 15:3).
We all have dreams that we want to achieve; goals that are inspired by worldly ambitions. We want success personally, professionally and financially. We desire a beautiful home, wonderful family, great career, and financial freedom. These aren’t bad things and they can be achieved through striving to unlock the greatness within us. But, everyone of these is temporary and will pass on to someone else when we die. God given dreams have eternal impact that never ceases. Ecclesiastes 3:11 teaches that, “God has placed eternity in the heart of every man.” This is what causes man to wonder about the afterlife. This is what drives us to ask the questions, “What is the meaning of life? What is my purpose?” This internal longing for greatness points us to an eternal Greater purpose.
This Greater purpose is to know God, to fellowship with Him and to lead others to Him. When we embrace the Greater purpose, it not only gives us direction but it instills in us a sense of urgency to bring others into this fellowship. It changes our perspective of people and allows us to see them through the eyes of God. We are driven by the same desire to not see anyone perish but that they would repent and come to God. Our enemy understands this and wants nothing more then to distract us from our efforts. He plots, schemes, and spreads lies to disguise his efforts. He will use good things to distract us. He will use lies to make us hate each other which keeps us from viewing each person as being made in the image of God. Now is not the time to back up.
This eternal purpose, this walking in step with God and our desire to bring His kingdom to this earth, is the force that drives us into battle with the enemy. We are not picking a fight with a new enemy. No, we are joining the battle that has been waging since the enemy first tried to remove God from the throne. We have a great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us in this battle. These warriors who lived by faith and fought valiantly to defend and expand the Kingdom of God were not seeking to unlock their own greatness for the praise of the world. These warriors of faith gave their lives embracing, and driven by the Greater who lived in them.
Unlocking greatness requires pushing yourself. Embracing the Greater requires dying to yourself. Unlocking greatness will change the way people see you. Embracing the Greater will change the way people see God and each other. Unlocking greatness is driven by a desire to finish better. Embracing the Greater is motivated by already knowing, “It is finished”. When we choose to unlock the greatness within us, we impact the opinion of others. When we choose to embrace the Greater who lives in us, we impact their eternity. In the words of the apostle Paul, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Who will you choose to please today? Will you seek the greatness that the world desires? Or, will you side with Joshua when he says, “…as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD!”?