Last night I had the privilege of attending the 30th Annual Meeting for the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce. The main floor of Verizon Arena was the ideal space for the event, which drew in nearly 800 business men and women from various parts of North Little Rock and Little Rock. Entrepreneurs, Bank Presidents, CEOs, Upper Level Managers. They filled the room. Dignitaries – former Mayors, the current Mayor of North Little Rock – were also in attendance – and the brand-spanking-new Arkansas Governor himself was the keynote speaker. Important folks doing important stuff.
After the awards were presented and a couple of short acceptance speeches were given, the Mayor introduced the Governor. As he took the stage and made his way to the podium, I quickly wondered what his subject matter would be. Shortly into his speech about his focus on computer science in the schools, I thought to myself, “That is a great thing. He is doing great things. Lots of folks here are doing great things. I want to do great things.”
On the way home in the car, the BGITW (best guy in the world), aka Brad asked me what I thought of the Governor’s spiel. I replied, “It was ok. I think I like him. But I got the feeling that he was still in candidate mode. He’s in office; we already elected him.” Brad made a comment or two and our conversation went elsewhere. He had no idea that I had been contemplating this idea of greatness and was grappling with both my own opinion of the Governor’s “greatness” and my own definition of what it means to be great and to do great things.
Several years ago while working on my Master’s Degree, I was required to read Good to Great by James C. Collins. In the book, Collins identifies great companies, specifically those companies who have successfully made the leap from good to great. And while he does divulge several key traits, habits and practices of the great companies, that isn’t his chief intent. Rather, he addresses why more companies don’t do those things on a more consistent level. It’s quite a good read and one that I recommend to anyone in a prominent business role. Inasmuch as the book pertains to companies, some truths can also be applied personally. As examples, here are a few quotes:
“Good is the enemy of great.”
“A culture of discipline is not a principle of business, it is a principle of greatness.”
“Bad decisions made with good intentions, are still bad decisions.”
“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”
As my mind continues to ponder greatness, I think of great men and women. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Alexander the Great, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, and many others. And as great as they all were, I can think of none greater than Jesus Christ. For believers He is our Savior, our Lord; the One whose example we are to follow. And then I am reminded:
- Standing upon a hillside in sackcloth garments and sandals, He delivered the blessings of obedience to all who were eager to listen. No business suit, shiny black shoes, stage or podium.
- In the midst of a condemning crowd, He reached down to pick up a stone from the sandy earth to protect a sinful woman. No carpet floors. No awards handed out. Just pure forgiveness.
- After an already long journey, He chose to travel through Samaria so He could provide Living Water to a dry and thirsty soul. No three-course, white table cloth meal.
- Mocked. Beaten. Bruised. And hung on a cross – a heavy, wooden cross carried by Himself – and left to die. For me. And for you.
Greatness. Yes, I want to do great things. I want to accomplish, achieve and excel. I want to make speeches of my own and win awards and go to fancy dinners and mingle with the other great-doers. Much more importantly though, I want to be like Jesus. I want His greatness to be revealed through me. I want others to see that it is only because of Him that I can do ANYTHING good, let alone great. Without Him, all my efforts are in vain.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
John 14:12 (KJV)