Is "Great" Really a Category Christians Can Use?

Jim Collins NOTE 03:
There are definitely some words Christains do not like. I am not talking about vulgarity and swearing. Here are the words I am thinking about.

words Christians don't like

When we start using these words, and others like them, we squirm and become uncomfortable. They sound, well - worldly. Secular. UnChristian. They are not words we find in the Bible. They seem to be "works-oriented words." We prefer words like grace, love, relationship and acceptance. 

Another word to add to this list is the word - GREAT or GREATNESS. That word sounds full of pride and even arrogance. Of if not that - then of impossible standards.

I understand... I really do. I really like some other words and ideas myself. By far, my favorite two biblical phrases are from Jesus and Paul.

Jesus tells his disciples they are to "Bear much fruit that lasts" - John 15:16 (but see John 15:1-17 for a lengthy "word" on the importance of being FRUITFUL). Much fruit that lasts. That sounds like success. It sounds like the disciples are to do effective ministry that is results oriented. Poor, average, good or great - if I had my choice about how to describe the fruit I am called to bear - GREAT is the word.

The second is from the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7.  "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."  It is pretty hard to read Paul and not see the legitimacy of words like success, excellence, productivity, results and so on.

The word GREAT is simply a qualifier that is superlative.

  • Jesus is a very GREAT Savior.
  • The Lord our God is GREAT GOD above all the earth.
  • The salvation we have received is such a GREAT salvation.
  • Heaven is GREAT beyond our understanding.
  • We are to have GREAT faith.

Being double-minded, half-hearted, lukewarm, mildly interested in Jesus, politely average in our Christian life - none of that is appealing or inspiring. 

  • None of us like when our favorite sports team settles for mediocre.
  • None of us enjoy paying money to go hear an average performance by our favorite musician or band.
  • Do you really want to hear average sermons week after week?
  • Are you really satisfied with few results concerning evangelism?
  • Do you only want your church to grow a little?
  • Will you settle for God to have only a bit of glory on earth and in your life?

vine and branches much fruit that lasts John 15:15Don't you want to work hard, pray fervently, love passionately, follow diligently, make a genuine difference, do work that lasts and inspires and meets the needs of others? Of course you do! Greatness is just a superlative that can be motivational. It is one we should feel FULLY FREE to use as followers of an AWESOME GOD. By the way, awesome is several notches above great. Maybe we need a book that says from average to good to great to awesome. 

This reflection has been about the Third Objection some Christians have to the idea of Good to GREAT, and of Great Leadership. Of course we are not talking about vanity, pride, self-centered leadership, ego-driven leadership, monuments to the glory of a leader. Of course not that is not what we want or need.

But we are talking about bearing much fruit that lasts as we engage in the most important of callings and vocation with the highest of goals and the most pure of motives. Being used by God to advance His Kingdom on Earth, His Will being done all for the greater and greatest glory and honor of God.

So I think GREAT is a great word to use. I believe it is a great word to use about leadership, about the church, about results, about our calling.

And I pray that there will be beauty, greatness, majesty, and glory about everything you do.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International
BrianRice@lcileaders.org