Thinktrain has moved! Redirecting…

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A new definition of greatness

I hadn't heard these inspiring words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., until today, but they are already among my favorites of the quotes attributed to him.

If you want to be important -- wonderful. If you want to be recognized -- wonderful. If you want to be great -- wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That's a new definition of greatness. And this morning, the thing that I like about it: By giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve ... You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.
I like the refreshing take on the "greatest among you shall be least" citation from the Bible. I've always taken that to mean that being selfish will leave you empty or diminished somehow, or even that you'll receive the smallest portion at God's table (whatever that may mean). The way Dr. King describes it turns that notion on its ear: He says instead that by serving, you will reach your ultimate potential. People are at their best, Dr. King points out, when they are helping others. It's not so much that you will be punished for stockpiling whatever you can gather, it's that ultimately you will be missing out on the best reward: the satisfaction of making contributions that benefit someone beyond yourself.

I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting things or desiring success and recognition. Despite all that we can collect, though, we are at our finest -- and we are most fulfilled -- when we are reaching out, not taking in. Thanks, Dr. King.

No comments: