My Labor Day blues (and your greatness)6
September 2, 2013 by John Nicholas Prassas
I love Labor Day and I hate Labor Day. Or at least I dislike the mixed emotions it stirs up within me each year.
I was born on Labor Day. So I’m happy to celebrate my birthday while America grills hot dogs and enjoys a relaxing long weekend. After all, I love a big party!
But I’m not so giddy about adding another candle to my cake or watching another summer come to an end. In fact I used to cry after my birthday parties because school would usually start the next day and I couldn’t handle the elevator drop from joyfully opening presents one minute to suddenly losing summer’s bare-footed freedom, relaxed curfews, fire-flies, pool parties, surf sessions and family trips the next. Blam!
I was a true child of summer. And even now as an adult I struggle with this transition.
Compounding this emotional passage is my annual review of the past year and beyond. No matter how many victories, successes or joyful memories I might count and be thankful for, my gloomy outlook toward the dark days of Fall and Winter ahead can easily steer me toward a harsh evaluation of my life, highlighting my mistakes, failures and regrets.
This, in turn, can lead to my annual lament about greatness – and my lack of it.
Yes I’ve been around greatness, hailing from a great family, having great friends, playing on great teams, earning some great honors, building a couple of great companies, marrying a great wife and raising great kids. But I still haven’t realized my full potential. I haven’t touched the world in the ways I’ve longed to over the years. I haven’t achieved true greatness or made a great impact on the world – not even close.
No million-dollar pay-days, Senate seats, Nobel Peace Prizes, People Magazine covers, Academy Awards or New York Times bestsellers to my name – not even a library, highway, stadium or dormitory wing dedicated to my greatness!
Yes, I exaggerate for effect but maybe you feel the same way on your birthday, on Labor Day, or whenever you pause to reflect upon your life, even if it’s while driving to work every day. I don’t think I’m alone in this.
I’m pretty sure we all aspire toward greatness. It’s in our DNA. It’s a God-given desire. Yet it’s something hard to define and easily twisted by pop culture, our insecurities and our fallen world system.
Jesus said, “The greatest among you shall be the servant of all.” Hmm. Now that’s a different angle on greatness. Not exactly what we had in mind, and actually contrary to our natural desire to be lauded, praised and honored. Doesn’t really fit our image of standing tall above the rest. But it certainly rings true.
Jesus also said that John the Baptist was “the greatest person ever born of a woman.” Then he said that even the lowest person born into his kingdom would be greater than John. Wow. That’s pretty great!
Come to think of it I do feel great when I serve, encourage and empower others. I feel God’s good pleasure. And I do become majestically great when I embrace my place in God’s kingdom as a follower of Christ and allow his greatness to consume me. God’s Spirit of adoption does this for me automatically and supernaturally!
When you boil it down, we can achieve true and lasting greatness two ways: Serve others. Receive God’s greatness as a member of his kingdom.
Okay I’m feeling better now, and hopefully you are too. Suddenly yesterdays, birthdays and Labor Days don’t matter because our outlook becomes eternal and supernatural. No doom, gloom or Labor Day blues.
With our view of ‘greatness’ corrected we can celebrate each and every day for all it’s worth, without regrets and with great hope towards the future. Let’s pray:
Thank you heavenly Father for this day you have made; help us to be glad today and every day. We rejoice in being alive and born into your kingdom through Christ your Son our Savior. Help us to grasp the power and simplicity of true greatness and pursue it with hearts full of love and passion. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
Got any related thoughts or experiences? Please comment at the bottom of the page.
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In the words of Shakespeare’s Malvolio, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” (Twelfth Night)
Aristocrats are ever overthrown by outraged peasantries, their vast properties crushed by debt. Headliners are but “poor players who strut and fret their hour upon the stage and then are heard no more.” Those desperate for God, however, have greatness thrust upon them, empowered and immortalized by the fury of the cross and the glory of Christ’s resurrection.
[Parenthetically, John, while we agree passionately about most things, I confess that I am a child of spring and fall and cousin to the child of winter but not always certain what to make of the children of summer. While you revel in clear, blazing days, I yearn to have the sun at my back and the wind in my face, swirling leaves or snow at my feet, and the distant fragrance and promise of new life to come again.]
Happy birthday, friend John.
Ah, yes! I knew it wouldn’t take long to hear from children (or fans) of Spring, Winter and Fall. Surely each season has it’s merits and I actually love them all. But the shifting of gears between Summer and Fall, especially on my Special day, is a bit like someone using a clutch for the first time; rough every time! Thanks for indulging me, Ron. Really appreciate your comments.
Amen! Well said! Happy Belated Birthday, oh, great one.
Glad to see your good humor (or is it great humor?) is intact! Thanks for the B-day wishes, April. Had a nice one.
Well done my good friend. I am glad that you do not see how great you are in the eyes of others. You are and have been blessed in such a unique way. Looking forward to see what GOD has for you next. J.G.
Thanks, Big Jim. Your personal support always inspires me to be real and ‘leave it all on the field.’ Keep living large, brother!