You can’t see greatness growing in people, but you can see the fruit in small ways. You can see whether they are sitting at the table or serving. You can see their attitude, whether or not they keep their word, in the way they handle money, how they perform their work, how they value and relate to their families, and the way they treat little people, especially those who have nothing to give back to them.
Jesus turned the world’s picture of greatness on its head when he gave his perspective on greatness (Luke 9:46-50). He acknowledged that the world’s idea of greatness is very different from his. The world’s is based on how powerful, rich, talented, and influential a person is and how many servants they have. He said even though this is the way people have always viewed greatness, it is not to be that way with us. In Jesus’ definition the great one is like the youngest—the one without the advantages. The greatest one is not the one who rules, but the one who is the subject, not the one who is served, but the one who serves.
Jesus declared true greatness is found in service to others. To be like Jesus is to be a servant—to emulate these qualities: humility, meekness, obedience, self-denial, selflessness, and service. He came to serve, and that’s what he did. Jesus believed that when a man or woman discovered the truth, they would also find a reason to serve.
Jesus demonstrated that little people matter. He made himself accessible to people who were unimportant and even insignificant in others’ eyes. Everywhere around us are little people--children, teens, people who are marginalized and who desperately need someone who will give value to their lives. This greatness is needed in the home, daycare, the classroom, the hospital, the convalescent center, and a thousand other places. There is someone always trying to put the little people down. Like Jesus, we need to lift them up and let them know how important they are.
During our years in Argentina, I met a lady who understood greatness. We called her Abuela (grandma). Abuela Maria was seventy-six years old when she came to know Jesus. She didn't have much of this world's goods, but she knew Jesus. She had such a contagious enthusiasm for God. She was always touching somebody, whether it was through a loaf of homemade bread or just her winsome way.
After church one evening, Maria told me bye, because she was taking a trip. She gave me a hug as she did to each member of my family. Early the next morning, the pastor called me. He was fighting tears as he said, "Can you come and help me preach a funeral? Abuela Maria went home to Jesus last night. We found her this morning sitting in her chair with her Bible in her lap and three offerings posted for next Sunday.” Then he added, "Did she tell you she was going on a trip?" I found out she had told several others she was going home. At her funeral, Pablo asked, "How many have come to know Jesus because of this little lady that we are now saying goodbye to?" Everyone was surprised to see hands going up everywhere. Her life and death had made such an impact in so many in such a short time. She understood in a remarkable way what it meant to be a servant. I think I can say that I witnessed true greatness in that lady’s life—that’s the kind that Jesus modeled for us.