Character and Greatness
Yesterday morning I was thumbing through my Bible when a small piece of paper that had been tucked away somewhere near the back dislodged itself and fluttered towards the floor. It came to rest under our kitchen table, and just out of my reach.
A bit irritated because I had to get down on my knees to retrieve the runaway, I picked it up and quickly scanned it for anything that might have been of importance before I tossed it in the wastebasket. On the small piece of paper was one short sentence that I’d printed containing a quote that I’d heard in a church service a year or two ago…
Greatness is born in difficulty.
Curiously enough, that’s the only thing that I’d written on the paper. Nothing else. Not the date, or the name of the Pastor, or any notes pertaining to his message. Greatness is born in difficulty. I think that the impact of the title of the message was in and of itself enough to set my “wheels” in motion…
As is often the case when I write, I’m not really sure where this is going, but as always, I’ll press on.
Character is defined as, among other things, “moral excellence and firmness” and “one of the attributes or features that make up an distinguish an individual.”
Greatness is a noun that, when used to describe the attributes of an individual, equate with “excellency, impeccability, value, goodness, and distinction.”
So what to the two have to do with one another? Well, I believe that for the most part, you won’t find one without the other. Come to think of it, I feel that the two are inextricably linked.
The Bible is littered with examples of individuals who have been called to greatness. Think about it for a moment. In the Old Testament, we have Moses, Abraham, Daniel, Joseph, and David, to name a few. All of these men were called by God to serve, all answered yes, and all rose to greatness.In the New Testament, we need look no further than Paul to see a man who let nothing stand between him and what God called him to do.
Of course, calls to greatness didn’t end with the book of Revelation. Humanitarians would include Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. History is scattered with leaders of countries who have altered the course of history, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.
Here’s the thing: All of those people endured some type of difficulty along the path to greatness. It may have been because of what God asked them to do, or the color of their skin, or situations created by other people, or a physical handicap. Perhaps it was just the sheer weight of the burden that comes with being a leader of people, or a trailblazer, or a difference maker.
I don’t know about you, but I consider all of those people to be of “character.” In my eyes, each of them possessed “moral excellence and firmness.” I believe that they already had character or developed it in order to get over, under, around, and through the challenges and obstacles that each of them faced.
and it won’t take you long to find people of character who are great. They’re all around us, and aren’t categorized by career, social status, or lifetime accomplishments. They don’t have to be history makers; perhaps they’re history teachers. They don’t have to lead people to the Promised Land; perhaps they lead people to Christ. They don’t have to feed the poor and take care of the sick on a global scale; perhaps they feed children, and change diapers, and wipe runny noses in their own homes. They don’t have to be leaders of countries; perhaps they’re spiritual leaders in their families. Perhaps they put out fires, or drive school busses, or run companies, or dig ditches.
What I’m trying to say here is that what’s important is not necessarily what you do, but the manner in which you do it. It’s not the title or the position that you hold, but the person that you are. It’s your moral excellence and firmness and determination and commitment to what is right that makes you great.
I’ll tell you here and now without an ounce of hesitation, reservation, or timidity that I want to be a man of character and greatness. Not in the eyes of man, but in the eyes of God. That “Well done my good and faithful servant” that we read in Matthew 25:21? I don’t wait until I cross the finish line of my life here on earth to hear those words. I want to hear them, or at least imagine hearing them, or knowing that I did my very best to deserve them, each and every day of my life.
When I lay my head on my pillow each night I want to reflect on my day and picture God having a conversation with one of His angels, or perhaps Peter or Paul, saying “You know that Sam Maniscalco? He has overcome every obstacle that has blocked his path. Well of course I helped him along the way, but he was willing to reach out to me for help. Even when he didn’t really know Me, he looked to Me for help. He’s not afraid to come to Me say he’s sorry when he has taken a wrong turn or done the wrong thing. He’s grateful for each day and for what he has, and he shares his heart and his love for Me with everyone he meets. He looks at all the challenges that he faces as life lessons to draw closer to Me. He never gives up, never quits trying, and never loses hope. He seeks to walk with the mind and heart of My Son.Through all of his trials and tribulations he has grown to be a man of character, and in the process he has risen to greatness.Above all else, he loves Me. I love that guy!”
Perhaps. I mean, who would the audacity to share his version of what an imaginary conversation that God is having in heaven with one of the long-time residents about him? Well, apparently me.
You may indeed think that I’m crazy, and I’m perfectly fine with that.I quit worrying about what others think of me a few years ago. All I know is that above all else, I love having God at the center of my universe. I love the feeling that I get when I’m sharing what’s inside of me with someone else. I love it when I’m sharing God’s Word with someone who has never heard it, not verbatim from the Bible, but from my heart. I love “witnessing” for Jesus. I love the relationship that we have. I love walking with His Son, and I love being filled with His Spirit.
I love God with all that’s in me because that’s the way the He loves me. His love for me is absolute, unmatched, unwavering, unending, and unconditional. He’s always there for me. Always. And you know what? He’d love just that much even if I did none of the things that I do: no Seed of Hope, no prayer room in our business, and no sharing my heart with others. He’d stilllove me that much. After all, He sent His only Son to die for me before I was born!I mean, come on. How can you not be totally in love with and grateful for a Daddy like God?