Something Greater Than Greatness
“Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23).
THERE IS AN OUTWARD-REACHING IMPULSE SOMEWHERE IN THE HEART OF EVERY PERSON. It is less evident in some people’s lives, but it is never completely absent. Even when a person’s circumstances have stifled this urge, it often takes only a slight change to release it. By nature, we desire to move toward things we’ve not yet reached, even if we’re not sure what those things should be. We are beings who aspire. We stretch outward, seeking to make some sort of connection to realities outside of ourselves.
But even as we reach for a greater experience of life, we discover an irony: the harder we strive for the good things in this world, the more they elude us (Ecclesiastes 1:2,3). The more we make these things our main pursuit, the more their goodness seems to slip out of our grasp. What we need, as Stephen R. Covey suggests, is not a map, but a compass. Instead of seeking this or that predetermined path to happiness, we need to seek TRUTH, aiming in all situations simply to align ourselves with true-north principles. As we do this, we find that our path turns out to be more satisfying and more interesting than any we had imagined.
Human greatness consists not of any specific set of endowments or accomplishments, but of a life based upon truth. Such a life is within the reach of every human being, whether one is “great” or “small” in the eyes of the world. Historically, those who’ve lived life in its authentic fullness have always been distinguished by two traits, both related to truth: (1) they’ve been thankful for the truth about who THEY were as unique creatures of God, and (2) in their relationship to EVERYTHING ELSE God has created, they’ve honored the truth concerning each of those things. God has placed within us the desire to reach outside of ourselves and to be connected both to Him and to what He’s created. If what we most desire is a TRUTHFUL connection to Him and to our surroundings, then there will be for us a quite comfortable sense of genuine greatness: the pleasure of filling precisely the role God had in mind for us, within the larger scheme of His great creation.
“If any man seeks for greatness, let him forget greatness and ask for truth, and he will find both” (Horace Mann).