What would you ask Him if you had the chance?
When will I die? What will eternity look like? Will I be with you? My loved ones?
The disciples had a chance. More than one. They could have asked Him all kinds of things. Mysteries of the world. Unending revelation. Unfathomable wisdom. But they chose to ask Him this: “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Do you think they wanted to know really who was the greatest … or do you think they wanted to know: “How could I be the greatest? Tell me, Lord, what is the pathway to greatness? For I think I would like to be on it.
Wouldn’t we all?
No matter how we dice it, the desire for greatness is in all of us. We want purpose. We want to have an impact. To make a difference. It’s at our core, as humans. Right? This ongoing, unstoppable striving to be greater. We’ve all known it. We’ve all tasted it. And… we’ve all abandoned the joy of a milestone, even an amazing one, solely to reach the next goal. And the next. And the next.
To make our mark. Our fingerprint. Our legacy.
Is there ever an end? Do we ever stop striving? And how, then, will we know when we get there? How will we reach our “greatest” point?
Jesus answered the question for the disciples ... and for us. He said, “Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 18:3)
What did He mean? Become like children? For even a young child strives, doesn’t she? “Look at me,” she says on the swing. “I can go higher. I can swing upside down. I can jump off. Watch. Wait. That wasn't right. Watch me again.”
Even in our youth, it seems, the striving is within us. From the beginning. The need to be better. To climb higher. To run farther. So, what exactly does a child have that we might not? What is it within her that is different. What is that thing we are missing as adults? That path to greatness?
Knowing we needed more explanation, Jesus continued, “Whoever than humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18:4)
Hmm … humility. That was the difference. That was the dividing line to greatness.
Is it the same for us? My mind can be quite convincing that I’ve already got it--this humility thing. Easy. I know I’m no better than the next guy. Yet, often times, my cloak of humility hides the core of pride. I am no good… but please tell me how great I am! I couldn’t have done it without you… but did you see how I could have! Pride says the things that go right in my life are because of me and the things that go wrong are because of something or someone else.
True humility shines in the absence of pride.
The heart of a child says, “Show me. Teach me. I want to learn from you.” Always looking up, he is eager to follow. To learn. To explore new ways of doing something. And at his core ... at her core is trust. She climbs into the vagrant's lap and says, "Teach me to whistle." He stops the old man, bent and withered, and says, "Show me that card trick." I have something to learn from you.
How different do we approach life? How sure of ourselves and our own way of doing things. How we can delight, not in what others bring to our lives, but how much we bring to theirs. Or how much higher than them we can climb. Others become not handholds to offer support, but footholds to launch us higher. And if our boot puts them under foot, so be it.
Here is the challenge ... a challenge to myself. A challenge to look into the eyes of the next person I see, the very next person God brings into my life, knowing that I have something—something incredible—to learn from them. Whoever they are. May I look up, rather than down. And declare… “Show me. Teach me. I want to learn from you.”
That's how we find greatness. It was hidden this whole time in the heart of a child!