I’ve lost track of how many times, in my heart of hearts, I’ve yearned to make a difference in our world. As a teen, I was certain the path to greatness lay just ahead of me. All I needed was to find the said path, and I’d be on my way.
Now, decades later, at times I still yearn to impact my world, through writing, serving, and encouraging. But a glimpse from the outside of my life reveals very little “greatness.” I’m an unpublished writer-mom of teenaged boy-men.
I don many ordinary caps in a day:
And on occasion, counselor.
These all appear insignificant from the outside.
But there’s truth in the quote: “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for . . . the masses.”Impact: What is the Path to Greatness, Really? “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for . . . the masses.” ~Dag Hammarskjold #tellhisstory #pathtogreatness Click To Tweet
Perhaps we need to redefine “greatness.” What if the pouring out of myself into the lives of those who live within the four walls of my home is the nobler thing?
Perhaps the giving up or postponing some of my dreams is the path to greatness?
What if making choices to place my husband and our sons above myself is what equals world-changing stuff? If our sons launch into this big, scary world with the confidence that they’re loved—knowing Hubs and I have their back—does that equal greatness? When we offer them the security that they’re not alone, does that reveal a bit of greatness? Even more, when they know they are loved by a great and compassionate God, maybe that’s a hint of greatness.
Which Way Is the Path to Greatness?
If God had given me some of my dreams when I was a younger woman, how would that have impacted my future choices? Would I have two amazing sons and one incredible husband in my corner? I doubt I would have learned the hard, humbling lessons that raising children forges into a mama’s heart.
Had I placed pursuing my dreams over intentionally loving my family, I’m certain none of us would be doing well today.
Sometimes, greatness comes when we choose to lay aside what we want to feed the souls of those closest to us. Because it’s in learning to die to self and to love others well that God fulfills our desire for “greatness”. At times, we need a perspective-shift, don’t we?Impact: What is the Path to Greatness, Really? Sometimes, greatness comes when we choose to lay aside what we want to feed the souls of those closest to us. #tellhisstory #pathtogreatness Click To Tweet
Maybe, we need to view greatness from God’s perspective. To be great in our Father’s eyes is to emulate Him in our actions, our words, our obedience to Him. Greatness is to reflect His love into the lives of those around us and those He allows to cross our paths.
Mine will probably never become a household name. And that’s okay. If my name is spoken well of by my sons—and if they remember me as the mother who loved them well and pointed them to Jesus—then I will have walked the path to greatness.
What about you? What has come of your great dreams from your young years? How does greatness look to you now?
***This was originally posted at LearnHowToWriteANovel.com
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My husband has commented that no one at the end of their life ever says, I wish I’d worked more or done more of this or that. It’s always I wish I’d had a better relationship with my spouse or my children. O I wishr I hadn’t wasted my life on all these earthly pursuits. Jesus poured His life on earth mostly into 12 men. I believe, our first ministry is to those God has placed in our lives, too.
Donna, your husband is a wise man. Jesus set a great example of where we should be focused. May we seek to follow in His footsteps. Thank you so much for visiting!
Interesting how we view ourselves … I see you as a powerfully gentle influencer, Jeanne … full of grace and truth and kindness …
Linda, it is interesting how we view ourselves. I appreciate your kind, encouraging words. THANK YOU.
Yes, I do think we often need a perspective shift on just what greatness entails. The greatest work we can ever do for God is raise His children in His ways for His times & purposes!
As a Mama of five, stepmama of three & grandmama of eleven this is the greatest & sweetest blessing we will ever have… Being faithful at the sink He has called us to, so to speak, lol! 😉
Bless you Jeanne,
Jennifer, I imagine you have made an impact on many of your family members. I love your quote about being faithful at the sink God has called us to. What a great reminder when someone else’s sink looks cleaner, newer, or better. 😉 Thanks so much for visiting!
Thank you Jeanne! 😀
It’s like you were reading my thoughts – except with girls!
Sounds like we’re in similar stages, Lauren. May you have some sweet times with your “children” this week. 🙂
Oh, this Boy Mom heart loves this! We cannot love well those outside our sphere of influence unless we loves those within our sphere of influence well.Yes – my life looks so very different than it did 38 years ago – if we trust God weaves the dream He placed in us, though. I have been thinking just this – “greatness comes when we choose to lay aside what we want to feed the souls of those closest to us” . My dream now? That each child, each grandchild love our Father with all their hearts!
Yes, Maryleigh! Choosing to love those within our sphere of influence equips us to love beyond that, in God’s way and time. Your insights resonate with me. I love that your dream now is for each of your children and grandchildren to love our Father with all their hearts. Yes and amen to that dream!
My goals and dreams definitely changed as my relationship with the Lord grew. I am thankful to rest in His plan.
Mine too, Melissa! Relationship with the Lord transforms our thoughts and understanding, doesn’t it?
I loved reading your thoughts here, Jeanne. A phrase that God has been repeatedly bringing to mind for me over the last few months is “the call is to faithfulness, not to success” and I think it ties in with your words. A lot of what we do may not look like obvious success to those looking on but it’s about being faithful to God and letting him decide what counts as “success”.
Lesley, I like that phrase. It’s an important concept to remember. Faithfulness doesn’t look like the world’s idea of success, but it means so much to God. I loved your thoughts here. Let’s allow God to decide what counts as success.
Amen to all you’ve said, Jeanne! This was a wonderful insight: “To be great in our Father’s eyes is to emulate Him in our actions, our words, our obedience to Him. Greatness is to reflect His love into the lives of those around us and those He allows to cross our paths.”
Thanks for visiting, Kathy! I’m so thankful that “greatness” isn’t solely up to us to come up with. The Lord instructs us in His ways. All we must do is follow His instructions. 🙂
I love the quote, Jeanne: “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for . . . the masses.” It is hard to resist wanting to do BIG things for God but I’ve yet to be called to a big thing, just lots of little things every day. 🙂 I’ve recently heard something like this, “It’s better to love a few people really well than to love a lot of people only a little.” (I massacred the quote, but this is the gist.)
Lisa, this quote really struck me too, exactly because there’s that desire to do the BIG things for God. I loved what you said about our big things are most often doing the many little things He gives us in a day. I really like the concept behind the words you shared. Yes and amen to that!
I love this post Jeanne. Too often we minimize our “greatness” based on some grand accomplishment when God has used us in our own sphere of influence to touch the lives that will touch the world.
Yes, Calvonia!I loved what you said about how we minimize our “greatness” by striving for some grand accomplishment God probably never intended for us. How much we lose when we set our perspective and eyes in the wrong place. May we be yielded to Him so He can use us to touch the world around us.
I love this Jeanne, Your words are so true. Your words resonated with me today and touched me. Thank you. Blessings xo
Paula, thank you for your encouragement. I’m so glad God used these words to resonate with you and touch you. He is a wonderful, faithful Father, isn’t He?
Yes and Amen Jeanne. Xo
Jeanne, I also resonate with that yearning to impact the world. Thank you for the reminder to redefine “greatness” and “view greatness from God’s perspective. To be great in our Father’s eyes is to emulate Him in our actions, our words, our obedience to Him”. It’s so easy to forget this day to day. I pray to live with this as my focus.
Wemi, oh how I love your honest words here. To be great in our Father’s eyes should be our main aim in life don’t you think? May we both be intentional about remembering and seeking to live with this mindset. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Beautiful words…and SO true.
And don’t forget “pray-er!”
Thanks, friend. And yes, definitely “Pray-er!”
I love this, Jeanne. “To be great in our Father’s eyes is to emulate Him in our actions, our words, our obedience to Him.” Yes! It’s all about Him and His honor, not about us. It can be hard though when our dreams die, can’t it? From past experience, I know what rejections in the publishing area do to our insecure places in our hearts. I know I tended to take it personally as a rejection of me or my writing. But it’s so amazing that God never rejects us. He looks at who we are in Him as His beloved children. Right? It was a difficult journey, but eventually He taught me to be more concerned about writing for an Audience of One. And I still need His reminders. You do encourage me so much and I believe you make a wonderful difference in the lives of your family and others, my friend. Thank you for that! Above all, I thank God for that! Love and blessings to you!
You’re so right, Trudy. Our lives should be all about Him rather than ourselves. When we deal with the disappointments of our dreams dying, we can be assured God is still working. It’s just that His plan looks different from ours. I’m so grateful that He walks with us through the disappointments and He still has good plans for us, even when they come about in a different way. You’re right publishing rejections can hurt those insecure places in our hearts. I’m so thankful God never rejects us! God uses your writing to bless many, including me. thank you for sharing your thoughts and story here. You are an encourager! Love and blessings back to you, friend!
Yeah, greatness. I too once aspired to ‘greatness’, to leading many others to Christ. But my plans were not God’s plans. But we do have amazing children and 2 great sons-in-law, and 5 wonderful grandkids. So greatness must settle for interacting with brothers and sisters in God’s family, loving, counseling, being a witness for God. Is it “settle for” or simply “God’s plan”? And if it is God’s plan, is that not ‘greatness in its own right?
Mom, we all have our vision of what we want greatness to look like. Isn’t it amazing how, when we yield to God’s plans for our lives, our understanding of impact and greatness is transformed? I so appreciate your thoughts here!
I loved this, Jeanne. The quote by Dag Hammarskjold, your thoughts on greatness…all of it. My word of the year is “empty” this year. This sentence: “Because it’s in learning to die to self and to love others well that God fulfills our desire for “greatness”.” spoke to me. When I think of emptiness, I think of dying to self. To all of your readers whose lives you impact as well as your family, you achieve greatness every day!
Laurie, that quote really spoke to my heart. I like what you said about the relationship between emptiness and dying to self. And thank you for your kind words, friend.
We do have to redefine greatness. And make sure it is God’s definition. Not ours. Or the worlds. “Sometimes, greatness comes when we choose to lay aside what we want to feed the souls of those closest to us. Because it’s in learning to die to self and to love others well that God fulfills our desire for “greatness”. Yes. It is imitating Christ. He served those around him. We do the same for our family and others. I consider my kids and husband my greatest accomplishment. Better than those covey of books I have yet to publish.
Yes, Theresa. We do need to make sure we define greatness by God’s definition. I’m with you . . . so thankful God has given me a husband and two sons to love and impact as I become more like Jesus. Publishing books is a dream, but not the most important thing, right? 🙂
Having worked as a counselor for many years I applaud your post. Loving and nurturing our families are great gifts that perhaps are not realized until we see the hole those who weren’t given them carry. We’re aware when we’re hungry, but we aren’t consumed with seeking food when we’re content. We’re free to fully engage in life.
Debbie, I so appreciate your reminder. We give a gift to those around us when we are intentional about loving them. I like your analogy of hunger but not consumed. What a great illustration for loving well those around us. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!
I’m learning this lesson over and over again, Jeanne! I want the sense of greatness that comes from that deep satisfaction that God is everything and nothing of the world can beat knowing Him. I fail many times wanting to be better, to prove myself worthy of more worldly successes to look ‘great.’ It is a tension I live with and only by coming into His grace over and over again can I navigate my way through! Lovely post!
Lynn, isn’t it interesting how God has different ways of teaching us the same lesson so we come to understand it more deeply? I’ve been the one who also has striven to look great or successful or like I have it all together. But it’s as we’re honest with Him and open to his leading and grace that we can make an impact in the lives of those around us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here!
There’s no way now for being great,
to honour and acclaim,
and it gives no aggro, mate,
’cause all that’s kinda lame.
I’d rather drink a lot of beers
and raise a wall of empty cans
than inspire awestruck tears
in many different foreign lands,
for after gettin’ that bright crown
you see it start to rust,
and then the drongos drag you down
to throw you ‘neath the bus,
so through well-banaced life I’ll stagger,
in each hand, a can of lager.
Ahhh, my friend. I know things are really bad for you right now. Especially when “lager” comes into the poem. ;). But in all seriousness, I am praying for you and for Barb, especially right now. Gentle hugs coming your way, friend.
Wow, Jeanne … I read this post and it’s as if you have been inside my brain! So much truth here about what true greatness is and how it is achieved. The world’s definition is ever-changing and ultimately unsatisfying, but God’s way leads us to contentment and peace. It may not result in a big platform and exciting opportunities, but these days, I want to focus on encouraging and building up the people right in front of me. Hugs, friend.
Lois, you’re right. The world’s definition of greatness changes by the generation and the latest star and what the culture tells us. God’s definition both satisfies us and leads, as you said, to contentment and peace. I like that your focus is on people right in front of you. Hugs back, friend!
Jeanne, this is heart-warming and soul-stirring. Oh, how I desire to see greatness from God’s perspective. Isn’t is so easy to focus on our dreams that only touch others out there in the world, like writing? When those closest to us are the ones who deserve our greatest impact!
I agree with you, Karen. How would it transform my life if I could really see “greatness” from God’s perspective?? May we be intentional about making sure those closest to us receive our greatest impact.
Such beautiful thoughts that I can relate so well to! God is showing me the value of pouring out for the one right in front of me. That usually means the people in my home (hubby & teenagers), but it also means the friend that asks a question or the neighbor who had a baby. It even means the one who I connect with on Instagram or Facebook (even if I wish it were thousands.) There is so much value in the one. I’m learning.
Rebecca, I, too, am in a season where most of my pouring out is onto the boy-men and men in my home. But I’m also choosing to pour out in prayer for extended family and for friends who are struggling. I love that God has given you so many places where you can impact others through your words and actions.
I just had a very similar conversation with Sue Donaldson on her podcast. It never ceases to amaze me how our boy mum brains end up on similar tracks.
Michele, God does have ways of confirming messages to us, doesn’t He? I’m sure your words will bless all those who hear them.
Well, having just received big “No,” I’ve been pondering this very question. We always think we have to do something grand and glorious for God when really what He wants from us is a simple, intentional relationship. I look at my husband who has gone to work everyday for many years. He hasn’t garnered special awards or written a book about his life. He has loved his family well and provided for us. That is his passion. To me that’s greatness. Yes, I do think we often need a perspective shift on just what greatness entails. Super post!
Yes, Bev. Our Father is all about relationship. He’s more interested in our hearts than our hands, right? Like you, my idea of greatness has definitely changed as I’ve matured.
I’ve been coming to much the same conclusion–our greatest ministry is most often in the everyday laying down of our lives for others.
Yes, Barbara. Our greatest ministry is often in the laying down of our lives for others. Such an upside-down concept from what the world tells us!