As we are working tirelessly to make lasting change in our world, and on our generation, we here at Medici Project are constantly challenged to take a step back and ask what it’s all for. In fact the great challenge all men must face is the weight of achieving their own dreams of something great. More often than not, its our own expectations that trip us up, rather than our actual lack of achievement. In the activist culture of Atlanta, this is more true than most places. We spend our days here trying to achieve great things because we believe that our part matters to the overall fight for good in our world. And while our part does, in fact, matter we must not make the mistake of holding too high a view of ourselves, or too low a view of our achievements. In the end, we must make sure that we take some time to ask a very fundamental question: “What Makes Something Great?”
For part one, we want to share the thoughts of a very wise man. My father in law, Paul Rustebakke (yeah, that’s a real name) once gave my wife and I some very wise advice when we were struggling with this question shortly after moving to Atlanta. With his permission, I pass his thoughts on to you. Read it twice, and soak it in. Also, stick around for future parts, as we dig deeper into the drive we all have to do something great, and what we should be watching out for along the way.
“I think the epic stories of the super-heroes, including the greatest of all (Lord of the Rings), are inspiring and derive their epic quality from their similarity to and not their contrast with common life. The conflicts and resolutions take on different forms, more visible and dramatic perhaps, but nonetheless similar to the lives of ordinary people. And it is that similarity that gives them their appeal and their power. For us to reach for the form and not the substance is to miss both. But in the path of wisdom we will find both–even though most people will not see it. We will view life from a privileged position with our Maker, happy to do His will in small ways, the effect of which may be largely hidden from us–but we don’t mind. His will is being done on earth as it is in heaven. We are blessed just to be there and for Him to get whatever glory should come from our obedience. As Zack Eswine said, “Perhaps God is asking you to do small things in a quiet way over a long period of time.” This is how musicians build their skill, parents raise their children, students emulate their teachers, and we grow in Christ-likeness. It doesn’t happen in an instant of catharsis with the laying on of hands or with a singular act of courage–at least not usually without a long period of consistent faithfulness leading up to that point.
I believe it is wise for man to “seek not great things for [him]self.” Jer. 45:5. Great things are done in a great way by those who would rather be doing small things in quiet ways, by those whose next step follows their last one, which followed the previous, etc. And it doesn’t seem great to them at all. It is God who is great–they just followed Him a step at a time. So was Moses called, and David for example, and your relatives, and so many others, including Frodo and Sam who just wanted to live a quiet life in the Shire. And so many others whom we have never heard of. They are spared the humiliating experience of those who seek great things for themselves instead of seeking to honor God who said, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” 1 Te 4:11-12
Perhaps we are not comfortable with our situation, and perhaps we shouldn’t be. Perhaps the nest is being stirred and it is time to take that next step. It is seldom right from where we are into our dream–it may be into the raw material our dream is made of — if it’s the right dream. And it is up to us to fashion it into something great. In God’s eyes. A piece at a time.”
Today, may you do something very small for all the right reasons.
Image used under the creative commons licence courtesy of Roberto Taddeo: http://bit.ly/1oLEpYT