According to American clergyman, activist, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, Jr., “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
There are certain interactive forces governing the life and endeavors of every great individual which is not obvious to the average person. Great people have the understanding that they are not celebrities but servants. Regardless of how much they are celebrated by people, they still hold this thought firmly at the back of their minds that they are just ordinary people who have been given the mandate to serve their communities and the world at the large. They tend to have interior monologues asking themselves, ‘Who am I?’ In other words, they marvel at the pedestal they have been placed by people around them and the level of responsibility given to them by God; considering themselves as undeserving but fortunate to be chosen for the cause, service, or assignment.
Greatness varies in latitude, gravity, season, and purpose. That is to say, the seed of greatness in a Truck Driver or a Homemaker may differ in size, focus, and aim from the calling of a Composer or a Pastor but they are all deemed great individuals in the sight of God, the “assigner,” regardless of their socioeconomic status, family history, race or ethnicity.
You see, it is not what you do that makes you great, it is the impact and significance of what you do in the world that determines your greatness. Inside every single individual on planet earth is the ability and potential to change their environment, community and generation in a great way. American author, Napoleon Hill advised, “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” But oftentimes owing to a lack of understanding of the dynamics of greatness, people tend to misconstrue the true essence and nature of greatness. They only wish to be in the limelight and crave for popularity.
There are scores of individuals in remote communities round the globe who have never been exposed to any media platform but are deeply immersed in transforming, enlightening, and empowering people daily. These people bring smiles to the faces of the underprivileged and ostracized populations—making them “great people” in the eyes of God and man. Don’t be carried away by the glitz and razzmatazz of celebrities in our churches, governments, institutions, and societies, some of who lack substance and significance in their lives. Rather, be inspired by the sacrifices and services of individuals who put their lives on the line for their countries and other people around the world.
A great person like Yohannes Gebregeorgis, for instance, had a passion for establishing libraries and literacy programs to connect Ethiopian children with books. Gebregeorgis left his job and his home in the United States and returned to his home country, Ethiopia with 15,000 books donated by the San Francisco Children’s Library. With these books, he opened the Shola Children’s Library on the first floor of his Addis Ababa home. Gebregeorgis believes that literacy and education will emancipate his impoverished land, gripped by HIV/AIDS. He has the habit of reading storybooks to these children for their entertainment and education because they have no access to television or computers. When asked the reason for leaving a more comfortable and secured life in the US to return to his country, Ethiopia, Gebregeorgis declared: “I just wanted to come back to Ethiopia and help children have a future, have hope.”
Shin Fujiyama is a 25-year-old young man born in a fishing village in Japan. Fujiyama has been blessed with the spirit of greatness. His childhood had been dominated by health problems. At one time, doctors told his parents that he had a hole in his heart. His parents almost gave up on him. But during a later visit to the hospital, doctors revealed that the hole in his heart has healed. In the words of Shin Fujiyama, “Somehow I was cured and I became a normal kid, and I had a second chance.” During his sophomore year at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, he volunteered in Honduras with a campus group where he saw children facing extreme poverty. He saw barefoot children walking aimlessly collecting cans and sleeping in the streets. Fujiyama says he realized he could help give other children their own second chance. So he set up Students Helping Honduras.
Today, Fujiyama‘s organization, Students Helping Honduras, brings education and community projects to children and families in need through student service trips and fundraisers. Since 2006, the siblings’ grass-roots campaign to help Honduras has grown to 25 campuses and raised more than $750,000 to fund projects, including the construction of two schools and the establishment of scholarships to help young women attend college. Listen to the heart of true greatness: “I feel like we’re making a huge impact. Some people might think that you have to be somebody famous or a millionaire or a doctor to do something, but we’re just everyday students, people in their 20’s. We can do so much. We’ve got so many things going for us. … It’s just about leveraging what we have. And we have done a great job at that.”
These individuals, regardless of lack of resources and media platforms, with the spirit of greatness residing in them, wouldn’t sit idle watching people in their respective communities live in abject poverty or debilitating conditions. See, inside you is an idea, a dream, passion, gift, calling, or purpose to make this world a better place starting from your community. But a lack of understanding of the underlying forces involved in discovering, developing, and deploying your assignment(s)—a lack of understanding of the dynamics of greatness—may deprive the world of the resources and great ideas buried with you, after you are dead and gone. Act now!
Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics, George Bernard Shaw who clearly was blessed with an insight of the dynamics of his greatness stated, “I am convinced that my life belongs to the whole community; and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle for me. It is the sort of splendid torch which I got hold of for a Moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before turning it over to future generations.” Wow, what an insight!
To be truly significant and impactful with your gift or ideas in life, you need to understand that there are some governing principles or forces at work which you have to subject yourself to so that you can fully actualize your purpose in life. Majority of people do not get to the promise land of their calling because they elevate their personality above principles. But to be great in life, you have to learn how to elevate principles above personalities.
The following are some tips to help you understand the dynamics of greatness in your efforts to deploy your gifts, ideas, and talents to the world:
- Identify Your Seed Of Greatness — To be significant in life, you have to first know and understand what you are carrying as a person. What are your strengths, gifts, talents, and calling? What sets your heart on fire? What is your passion? Your seed would determine where your fruit would be needed. Remember: “Man is only truly great when he acts from his passions” — Benjamin Disreali.
- Know The Purpose Of Your Greatness — The reason for your existence is tied in no small way to your greatness. The world is in dire need of your calling or seed that is why God packaged you among your siblings and people with those talents, ideas and abilities to change and affect their lives. The day you will discover your purpose in life, your will be half way through the journey of greatness.
- Pay The Price For Greatness — Understand the principle of “No pain no gain.” Everything worthwhile in life comes with a price and the level of greatness assigned to you is predicated on the price you have to pay. In other words, your prize determines your price.
- Understand Your Level Of Greatness — Though all humans are endowed with the seed of greatness, the impact, scope, and reach of our domains are not on the same level. Every great man or woman is distinct in his/her assignment or passion in life. I often argue that the level of our greatness determines our resources or wealth in life. Hence, don’t be envious of the wealth and resources assigned to people on a higher level of greatness or assignment than you. Your assignment in life determines the wealth or resources made available to you. Furthermore, before you begin asking God to bless you like the other person, first, know your purpose or assignment in life.
Scripture argues that “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6 AMP). It is sad to see people who are destined for greatness, but for the lack of knowledge and the unwillingness to submit to mentoring, cause their greatness to take a nose dive in life—crashing their dreams and purpose in life. Great people are perpetual learners. They understand the value of continuous development of their abilities, mental faculties, and communicating with their inner self.
The true nature of a great person is to be totally sold out to a cause greater than him/her with the firm passion to changing the world to a better place. Mexican-born, American theoretical chemist and prolific writer, who authored more than 600 scientific articles, ten scientific books, and a few books on the subject of science and religion, affirms my conviction by saying, “Let us consider the nature of true greatness in men. The people who can catch hold of men’s minds and feelings and inspire them to do things bigger than themselves are the people who are remembered in history…those who stir feelings and imagination and make men struggle toward perfection.”
I challenge you today regardless of your geographical location, gender, education, and resources to step out by starting to do little things in a great way and God who judges not the appearance of men but their intent, would equip you to prosper in all your endeavors. “Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things and I’ll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things,” Lawrence D. Bell.