September 2, 2013 by John Nicholas Prassas
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!
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!
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