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The Cup of Service

Greatness! That word in our mind evokes images of standing on top of an Olympic podium, the winning team cutting the net down after a tournament basketball game. Greatness is a Nobel Prize winner. Greatness is military general or a president in a motorcade. Periodically people will talk about someone who has achieved greatness, but I suspect few of us would claim to personally know someone who has achieved it - much less claim it for ourselves.

This word “greatness” simply refers to the state of being great. The word “great” seems to be different in our minds. We all know great people, we say it all the time. He’s a great guy…she’s a great gal. Who are these great guys and gals we know? They’re the people that volunteer their time to coach your kids’ little league teams. They’re the teacher or professor that goes the extra mile to make sure you get it. A great husband loves his wife even when she doesn’t remember his name. A great neighbor mows your lawn because they know you’ve been busy and want to help. A great mechanic tells you the truth - even when you thought it would cost you more. Have these great people achieved a status of greatness?  

Listen to Jesus’ words in Mark 10:42-45 (NIV), "Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'"

Maybe we could say it this way, “Great people bring out the best in others.” That little league coach is great because he brings out the best in his boys. That professor is great because he brings out the best in his students. That husband is great because he brings out the best in his wife. That wife is great because she brings out the best in her husband. That friend is great because they bring out the best in their friends.

Great people bring out the best in others. This is why we say our God is great, because he has brought out the best in us. Great people develop a following. Parents request great coaches. Students request great teachers. Everyone admires a great husband or wife. That’s what greatness is, it is a magnet force, drawing people in, because we know that when we spend time with great people they bring out the best in us. 

Frederick Buechner puts it this way, “The life you clutch, hoard, guard, and play safe with is in the end a life worth little to anybody, including yourself; and only a life given away for love's sake is a life worth living.” 

Do you want to be great? Be dedicated to bringing out the best in others, because that’s what great people do. So today, let’s put this into practice. As you line up for lunch or at the grocery store, let someone go first, hold the door for someone, generously tip a bad waiter or waitress, let someone else take the credit or even win. If you want to be great, don’t seek greatness just be a great guy or a great gal and help others succeed.