“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.”
—Matthew 5:43-47 from The Message version
Over the last year or so, I’ve had one goal in life: To become the epitome of greatness. I don’t mean that arrogantly. It’s just become my personal philosophy that good and mediocre don’t cut it. God’s Word reads: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23), and if I were to do anything for God I would make sure it was great. Plus, if you’re not striving for greatness, then you’re wasting your time and effort. Either strive to be great or just sit down. Lukewarm is disgusting! (See Revelation 3:16)
When I say I don’t mean to be arrogant, I’m being sincere. I have no faith in my own ability to be great, but I do recognize the One who resides in me enables me to be great. I invite God’s guidance into every area of my life. And I trust that, like His Word says (Proverbs 16:3), because I commit every area of my life to Him, my plans will succeed. So, no, I can’t achieve greatness on my own, but through God it is possible and probable.
Unfortunately, I’ve discovered my strive for greatness makes some people around me uncomfortable. Now, I’ve never fully understood this concept. If you are happy being mediocre, why get upset with me because I want greatness? Why not let me do me while you handle your business? Why can’t you just let me be great?
At first I thought I was just imagining this. There wasn’t really distance growing between me and certain people in my life. But avoiding me in public combined with the defriending, blocking and unfollows on Facebook and Twitter respectfully confirmed what I had been thinking. You just don’t enjoy being around me anymore…not even virtually. 🙁
At first I was thrown. Had I really done something to offend? Had I been mean and hateful? Were these people justified in their responses? I replayed interactions in my mind. I scrutinized every word I had said, tweeted, written. I prayed for clarity. And I the end of the day I realized, if I had offended, I hadn’t done so maliciously. My heart and intentions had always been in the right place. So why all the hate?
I came up with two answers to that question. 1) Righteous living convicts unrighteous living. When you are attempting to live out God’s Word, you become a standard…a testimony that Godly living in a contemporary world is possible. And while some people will see your life as inspiration, others will see it as conviction…and hate you for it. You become a reminder of what they’re not doing. And at that point it’s easier to walk away than stay. 2) When you’ve plotted and orchestrated someone’s downfall, it becomes torturous to watch them prosper. And who willing opens themselves up to torture?
But what do I do? Do I stop striving for greatness so that others can be comfortable? Do I scale back what I’m doing as not to offend? Do I apologize for who I am and change for the benefit of others? No! Absolutely not! But you should do these two things: 1) Pray for those who hate you, and 2) continue to let your light shine. Your shining light gives others permission to be great too. And that’s exactly what the world needs…more great people.
Our Deepest Fear
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.