The world tells us in no uncertain terms that to be considered great, we need a lot. A lot of stuff, a lot of money, a lot of power, a lot of education, and of course a lot of prestige (to name but a few). The idea is that the more we have, the greater value we are worth.
As Christian men, however, we have been given a much different model. Our most perfect example of greatness comes from Jesus Christ Himself. What is great? Christ tells us in no uncertain terms:
“But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12 (KJV)
So what is defined as greatness in Christian men? Service! We are called to serve. We serve God by serving those He put in our paths. Lovingly. By taking initiatives and making sacrifices. We are also called to serve with compassion, gentleness, and even sometimes, at great cost to ourselves. Even when we are compelled to confront someone with the truth, we do it in love. Christ has demonstrated to us how greatness is born in humility.
In the modern classic of management theory Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Other’s Don’t, author and researcher Jim Collins and his team found that great leaders make great companies. This can also be said of families, churches, communities and even nations, can’t it? Great leaders make a difference.
Collins says in his book that great leaders possess a multitude of practices, behaviors and attitudes that are conducive to the good-to-great transition. We at Faithtree think many of the same practices, behaviors and attitudes can be applied to our spiritual lives, our Christian walk and certainly, can aide men in their pursuit of God.
What makes a great leader?
Collins found that great leaders have intense determination and profound humility. He found that great leaders are able to put their personal ego and individual financial gain aside because more important to them than self is the long-term benefit of the team and the company.
He discovered that great leaders create a culture of discipline (not to be confused with an authoritarian environment). Collins refers to how great organizations being led by great leaders create an unrelenting inner sense of determination and focus on the greater good. Every manager and staff member in this culture cares about what happens- to the organization and its members.
Imagine a household, church community or workplace like that, where everyone feels a shared responsibility. Think of the potential that would lie within such a place, or even a home!
How can we create a culture like this on our journey as Christian men?
We start with the people in front of us. Of course, instead of managers and staff, we have spouses and children, parents and siblings, employers, etc. But by on-boarding them in the focus, and by giving the example of how critical our relationship with Christ is, and how imperative it is to serve God by serving others, we begin to create such an environment and a willing atmosphere.
If we are going to be men focused on pursuing God’s definition of greatness, it’s imperative for us to aim well and at the right goal. The world celebrates a greatness the Church does not define in the same way. The world says, “It’s all about you.” The Church says, “It’s all about Him, which also means it’s all about the person in front of you and discovering Christ in them.”
Faithtree recently launched The Pursuit, our first program that specifically examines what greatness looks like for the Orthodox Christian man. We discover greatness by seeing Christ as the true Man; “The New Adam.” We know that to serve God means serving the people He placed in front of us. It is a turning away from ourselves, toward the needs of the other. This is what Christ did in demonstrating true manhood. It’s certainly not easy. Nor was it easy for Him. But it’s God’s way. Which is the greatest design for manhood there is.