Have you defined what greatness is for yourself? Have you achieved it? Are you pursuing it? I ask these questions because I have long admired people who’ve achieved above and beyond the norm. Whether it be educational accomplishments, financial success, personal enrichment, contributions to society/humanity, philanthropy, discovery, invention or sports, those who rise above the crowd captivate our collective imagination and allow us to think outside of our self imposed limitations. In other words they allow us to dream bigger. I like that.
Just like most of you, as a youngster I had an idea of how I wanted to live as my life progressed through the years. Also just like some of you I had no idea what I wanted to do or how I was going to do it. All through junior and senior high I was conditioned to think “job” after graduating. I knew that I had to work to support myself and lessen the financial burden on my family. I needed a starting point. So at 18 years of age I did something that most people would consider unusual. I went back to my childhood home and asked the current owners if I could visit. They did not know me. Almost 10 years passed since I’d lived there. But I felt compelled to go there to refocus my starting point. They obliged. While there I went to the back yard to one of my childhood hiding spots, a tree about 30 yards away from the house. I climbed that tree a few times as a pre-teen because it provided cover from the other kids when I wanted some alone time. I would sit up in the branches laughing to myself as I saw them looking for me and asking where I was. On this day however, I climbed for a different reason. I wanted to talk to God, “if he was listening………”
I didn’t grow up in the church, but I understood religion and spirituality. The way I grew up I had lots of reasons to believe in God and some reasons not to. I chose to believe but I wanted to know for myself. So that day, the last day I ever climbed that tree, I said this: God, if you’re really there, I need you to talk to me. I’m 18 and I’m ready to start my life. I DO NOT KNOW WHERE TO START! (Yeah, I yelled at God. A brother needed answers man!) PLEASE TELL ME WHAT TO DO. RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW! Then, after praying quietly for one of the few times as a teenager, I promised God, if he was listening, that I would do my best to represent Him and my family if he gave me the guidance that I desperately sought. Then, remembering my fear of snakes and knowing that snakes like to climb trees, I jumped out of that tree and hauled-ass out of those woods!
I had a renewed sense of spirit after that experience. Although my life path had not been cleared completely, I had a sense of strength and purpose. Instead of uncertainty I developed an urgency about getting my adulthood started. So I decided to swing for the fences and if I struck out I would deal with the consequences. I would work extra hard to make up for it. I started a business and followed my dreams. Gave myself 10 years to make it happen. The business failed. As a result I started my family a little later in life. I was over 30 when my sons were born. Another talk with God, in my own house this time. I asked God for courage, strength, vision and compassion as a father. I needed it! So what does all of this have to do with greatness?
Exactly! I never thought about my own greatness. I never asked God to help me define it. I tried to create my life on my own. I didn’t invest enough time seeking advice from those who were more experienced and knowledgeable than myself. So as I raised my family and aged toward my mid-life I constantly reminded myself to seek my personal greatness, God’s purpose for me. We all may have our own definition of greatness and I define it with this question: am I using all of my God-given abilities to achieve all of my God-ordained tasks? Am I fulfilling God’s promise with all of my potential? I know that answer for me. Do you know that answer for yourself? If you’ve been blessed enough to achieve your own definition of greatness I applaud you. If, like me, you are continuing to define and purpose your greatness don’t give up. Each day that you’re alive is a day to grow in your purpose. For me personally I owe it to my community to do so. Good luck in your pursuits.