Who is the Greatest?

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Who is the greatest?  This was a question Jesus was asked one time.  It didn’t get a favorable response.

“Who is the greatest” is easy.  Muhammad Ali claimed the title for a bit.  But, considering the entire history of the world, whether Christian or not, people will tend to agree on Jesus.  He did shape human history for the entire globe.  Jesus is the greatest.  I have often thought about the issue of greatness or more accurately, “What is greatest?”

This is less clear.  There are a lot of whats that point to the who of Jesus.  Worship, mission, evangelism, discipleship just to name a few.  The problem is that our time is limited and there’s not enough room for all the whats of life.

A few years ago our music minister pointedly said to me, “You think that everything you do (meaning my youth ministry) is important.”  He meant this as a criticism implying I had no regard for all of the other whats that were happening in the church.  His comment stung at first.  Then the more I thought about it, I thought, “He’s right!  My things are the most important to me!”

Last week I went to my son’s end-of-the-year party at school.  He is in 4th grade.  I don’t usually go to these.  I couldn’t avoid this one.  This was the “Grahammys.”  Yeah, I spelled that correctly.  His teacher is Mrs. Graham.  So, this self-titled event is a formal dress, red carpet affair.  I even received a text the morning of the event (at 5:00 a.m.) reminding me what time I had to be there.  Clearly, Mrs. Graham feels “what” she is doing is most important – more important than sleep.

We arrived.  Everybody’s parents were there to collect autographs from the star students as they entered.  Following the red carpet entrance of all of the students dressed in varying combinations of formal wear, they began with the “pledge to Grahamland.”  I began to wonder if my child was in a cult of some sort.  My concern subsided quickly after each student was introduces via a photo montage followed by the awarding of their “Grahammy.”  What followed next brought occasional tears to my eyes.  Each student gave a well rehearsed speech on the impact Mrs. Graham’s class had on their life.  Team work.  Friendship.  Love.  Learning.  Value.  Problem Solving.  Amazing.

This is important!

This is great!

Mrs. Graham (and her students) clearly think the experience in her classroom is the greatest.  Her class is an imposition in our house.  We spend extra hours focusing on creative book reports and projects.  We have to sign up for the gazillion field trips they go on (I confess I only went on one).  Mrs. Graham’s weekly email updates are long, detailed and exhausting.  I spent an entire morning wearing a suit (usually only reserved for weddings and funerals) listening to ten year olds talk about their amazing experience in this classroom.  Mrs. Graham requires a lot of my family to participate in greatness.

As I reflect on what she requires and the results she is committed to receiving, a few thoughts come to mind.

When we are fully committed to excellence, greatness follows close behind.  Mrs. Graham shouldn’t apologize for thinking the thing she is doing is the most important.  I’m relieved I didn’t apologize to the music minister some years ago.  People want to participate in greatness.  People want to feel they are part of something important, something life changing.

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