By Trey Sullins
A few weeks ago I watched to see who would receive the title of the greatest in college football. The Heisman would go to the one competing at the highest level. I was fascinated by the videos of each player. Film reels did not just start in college, and were not just shots of the games played. Each player’s tape reflected years of playing, and hours and hours of practice time. Laboring in all types of weather, enduring the pain, and staying focused on the prize. The prize of greatness was at stake.
Most of us know we will never earn the right to strike the Heisman pose, but something in all of us craves some kind of greatness. For believers, that craving often comes when we meet or read about a person in their Christian walk that God is allowing to be part of His great plan. They are people used by God to give the gospel to many, or those trusted to go overseas in His name. We read the stories in the Bible of the true legends of faith, knowing what was done in the name of God by men like Abraham, Moses and Paul was nothing less than greatness. It also seems like that one thing that can rarely be attained…. The greatness for God.
In my study to see what the Bible would say about greatness I found myself with Stephen. Acts 6 starts the account we have of this man of greatness. In its briefness, we can see true keys to greatness.
First, those who are great for God make it clear from where their greatness comes. It is clear that Stephen is full of the Holy Spirit. Greatness cannot be achieved alone. No matter if it is greatness for God or greatness in football. When we choose to surrender our lives to God we are filled with the Holy Spirit; filled with His greatness. Never again will we be called to do anything on our own power.
Second, we see that those who are great spend a massive amount of time preparing. Stephen was a Jew, and God used him to speak to the Jews. He was ready for the role God had for him because he had prepared. Stephen spends all of chapter 7 in Acts reciting the ways God worked in the Old Testament. As he gave example after example, it clear Stephen knew the Scripture. He had learned the truth about God from the writings and teachings.
There is no short cut to greatness. God is able to use those who choose to take the time to prepare their hearts for Him. He uses those who take the time to know Him, and there is no way to know Him without knowing His Word.
Third, Stephen teaches us is that greatness doesn’t guarantee a happy ending. A believer who is great for God is not guaranteed an ideal outcome, just like winning the Heisman trophy doesn’t guarantee playing time at the next level or the ideal injury free career. Oh, we can know it will be exactly what God wants for us, but His will does not always line up with what the world would tell us is best.
The believer who finds His greatness in God has to hold on to the truth that God’s plan is perfect even if it doesn’t line up with ours. In Stephen’s case, it cost him his life.
Such a simple formula to write about, yet it often seems impossible. Like the three sitting on the front row, waiting for the chance to hold the Heisman trophy, those who run the race for the true prize are part of a slim crowd. These are the few that understand the prize at stake and what it takes to achieve the title when it is all said and done. “Well done, good and faithful Servant”. (Matthew 25:23)
Listen to The Great Ones sermon series here.