Monday, April 16, 2012

What Are Requirements for Greatness?

What qualities are required for someone to be considered “great”?

As a journalist, I’ve been privileged to meet a number of individuals we would describe as “great” – Jesse Owens, Dr. Billy Graham, Jack Nicklaus, Joni Eareckson Tada. But what made them great? What are key ingredients to the recipe for greatness?

Talent is one, for sure. Skill is another, learning and refining one’s giftedness. Then there are determination and perseverance. For leaders, vision, charisma, decisiveness and ability to inspire are important. Many other “ingredients” for greatness could be listed, but two that don’t typically come to mind are consistency and reliability.

Think of music’s “one-hit wonders.” These singers or groups produced one hit song, then vanished from the entertainment horizon. They found a formula for momentary stardom, but could not repeat it with consistency.

The same applies to athletes. Years ago a running back gained more than 200 yards in the Super Bowl, winning Most Valuable Player honors. But that was the apex of his career – he never again approached that moment of greatness. (You probably don’t even remember his name.) To achieve sports greatness requires reliability, being dependable for top efforts every time.

Considering “great” authors through history, their styles, genres and subject material might have differed, but they all could be relied on for consistent writing excellence. This also holds true for artists, composers, business leaders and innovators.

How does this relate to us? Most of us won’t rank among history’s greats in any area, but we can still be great within our own spheres of influence – our homes, workplaces, communities. We don’t have to be the most talented, gifted or skilled; but we must be consistent and reliable.

Anyone can be “great” for a minute or two, but a truly great mom or dad, friend or colleague demonstrates reliability day or night, sunshine or storm, happy or blue. Great people may not stand out in a crowd, but are consistently caring, loving, hardworking, faithful, and ready to do whatever is needed – whenever.

I don’t know if the label of “great” is something we should strive for. In fact, in the Old Testament, God offered this warning: “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not...” (Jeremiah 45:5).

However, we should make every effort to do our best with opportunities presented to us. The Bible sets the highest of standards for how we conduct our daily lives: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

As followers of Jesus, how we live out our lives reflects on our relationship with Him. So in that respect, we should strive for greatness. By being consistent and reliable.

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