To Command Great Things...

Nietzsche quote, to do great things is difficult to command great things is more difficult

To do great things is difficult;  but to command great things is more difficult.  Nietzsche

My morning devotions consist of lectio divina readings, journaling on the texts, praying through them, listening, discerning, and imagining what it is to live into the fuller meaning of these reflections. Right now I am working through Galatians and also additional Scriptures in the workbook I am writing on the Leadership  Way of Christ. I also use a little book that is a collection of quotes on leadership. In that little book, I usually read 4-8 quotes and find a few that inspire reflection.

This quote from Nietzsche REALLY inspired reflection. And what follows is only a preliminary reflection... left open-ended...

Leaders should ask this question: "Can I command great things?" Meaning, can I command those I lead, to do great things! Nietzsche understood that it was hard enough for a leader to actually do great things. And as hard as that it, it is (much) more difficult to command others to do great things. 

To COMMAND is to order, require, mandate . . . and this implies to enforce what is commanded.

Can a leader do this?

Well, leaders certainly have done this and continue to do it. As I am reflecting on both Jesus and Paul - they are illustrations of those who commanded great things.

Paul commanded the "imitation of God."
Paul commanded "be full of the Spirit, keep in step with the Spirit, live by the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, the holiness of the Spirit..."
Jesus commanded the greatest commandment. This is not a play on words. Jesus commanded the greatest of all things - to love God with great love, and to love others with great love. 

Still, to command even these great things is full of difficulty. Great things are usually difficult things. Difficult things are usually things that come with a cost. It costs you something to be about the accomplishing of a great thing. Great things come with a price.

To pay the price of accomplishing a great thing - you need an abiding, enduring, empowering motivation. Where does that motivation come from? 

It can come from outside. That is, another person can "command" you to do that thing. Of course the one commanding must have the power and authority to command that thing. Let's give Jesus the power and authority to command us to do the greatest thing. 

But, how long will we continue to do great things if there is only an external (extrincis) motivation to do the great thing? External motivation, whether it comes in the form of a carrot or a stick, is a motivator that quickly loses power, and which must constantly be "recharged." The decay rate of external motivators is fast.

So I-you-we need internal motivation (intrinsic). We must desire that great thing, believe in that great thing, and love that great thing.

Mother Teresa said there are no great things. Only small things done with great love. Taking her approach, I am not commanded to do great things. Now the command is to do small things with great love. Why will I do this? Well, the paradox is because I love to do small things with great love.

I want to be a part of great things and I want to be a part of small things done with great love. That is my desire. I have the interior motivation to endure the difficulty, pay the price, go the distance, keep the standard high, don't give in to lethargy or discouragement, keep going... Where did that desire come from? That's hard to say. Some it is personality and wiring. Much of it is the grace of God. Some of it is the company of friends I keep (who are like-minded). 

May you be attracted to what is great (good, beautiful and true). May greatness be attracted to you.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International