The red carpets are ready. The dress is formal. And the honors are coveted. The annual Hollywood awards season runs from November to February as stars from the film, television, and music industries gather at various ceremonies in hopes of being recognized as the best in their respective fields. Fans of pop culture revel in this time of year. While some fans tune in simply to see who will win, others anticipate seeing the designer fashions and hearing the acceptance speeches of their favorite actors and artists.
For stars of the fine arts, honors and awards are determined primarily by producers and experts within the particular businesses. For example, over seven thousand people of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ultimately vote on winners recognized in the annual Academy Awards ceremony, while roughly twelve thousand members of the Recording Academy decide on who will receive Grammys. Yet, as is often the case, the final choices made by such judges fail to reflect or represent the most popular fan choices. These often-contested decisions involving something as trivial as pop culture remind us of the subjectivity of determining who or what is truly great in any aspect of life.
Before pursuing personal greatness, we must first decide in whose eyes we desire to be great. It’s most tempting to be considered as great through the eyes of the world, and specifically through the eyes of our family and peers. Yet, once that decision is made, often we are led to pursue the goals of greatness determined by those people. From money and reputation to power and pleasure, the world promotes the mindset that we deserve to be served and are entitled to a seat at the table. However, Jesus turns that notion upside down. In his eyes, greatness is achieved only when we give our gifts, our faith, and our lives over to God,
who promises to use us for God’s most perfect and great purposes.
Reflect on how your personal definition of greatness has changed through the years. How did you determine your worth or greatness in high school? In young adulthood? What sorts of life events have reshaped your definition?
The one who is greatest among you will be your servant. All who lift themselves up will be brought low. But all who make themselves low will be lifted up.
Brent Lamberth is the Youth Minister at First UMC in Wichita Falls, Texas.