Becoming Great One Day At A Time

Ways I want to be great:

  • By writing a killer blog that’s read by thousands of adoring fans and receives comments like, “Hey Stephen, just happened to stumble upon your blog and got saved.”
  • By writing phenomenal worship songs that are sung around the world and that make Chris Tomlin jealous.
  • By preaching lights-out sermons that result in hundreds of conversions and also happen to start a nationwide revival.
  • By being the best athlete to set foot onto the basketball court, baseball diamond, football field, squash court, cricket field, bowling alley, or roller skating rink.

Notice the common thread running through all these? I want to be great in the eyes of the world. Basically I want to be the guy that gets picked first in life. What’s on your list? Want to be an office superstar? Trying to be Mr. Popular? Want to be loved by your coworkers? Been there.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and the words of Jesus in Mark 10:42-45. He says:

You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Here’s the thing that blows my mind about these verses. Jesus doesn’t say that it’s wrong pursue greatness. In fact, in these verses there’s an implicit command to pursue greatness. Here’s the deal though. Greatness in God’s eyes is totally different than greatness in the world’s eyes. It’s not wrong for me to want to be great. I just want the wrong kind of greatness.

So how do I be truly great? By becoming a servant to those around me. If I want to be a truly great person, I must become a slave. Jesus, the greatest man to ever walk planet earth, made himself a servant. That’s the path to greatness.

Every day I need to ask myself two questions:

  • Do I want to be great today?
  • Who can I serve today?

Husbands, do you want to be great? Do the dishes for your wife. College students, do you want to be great? Help a classmate that’s having a particularly hard time with a class. Teens, make a point of hanging out with the unpopular kids at school. Great people are lowly servants. They’re not looking for public glory, they’re seeking to serve.

God, break me of my sick pride. Help me be a lowly, humble man, content to serve behind the scenes. Teach me to be a servant.


  • Bill Haughery says:

    Stephen, In my eyes, that was a killer blog. If I hadn’t already been saved I would have been after reading that …. seriously. I think your posts (and your dads) are exceptional. I have now added you to my daily blog readings. Thank you for being an example to me of how to write effectively.

    In God’s grace,

  • Stephen Altrogge says:

    Bill – Thanks so much for your kind (and humorous) encouragement. I’m looking forward to seeing you at T4G!

  • TIm says:

    Ahhh, greatness on “squash court, cricket field, bowling alley, or roller skating rink”? Dude …

    Ottherwise, great post. Maybe I’ll see you at T4G, too.

  • Stephen Altrogge says:

    Tim – I just want to be the greatest all around athlete, you know? There are some roller skaters that I would not want to mess with…

  • Rachael says:

    I like your advice to teens, and it would be good for this advice to be extended to adults as well, and for everyone to put it [=looking out for the ‘underdogs’] into practice.

    Look for the ‘outsiders’ (we are all outsiders in some fashion[s]) and the oppressed and love them.

    Keep cultivating this attitude in your interactions and awareness and the sensitivity become a more natural, spontaneous reaction and engrained into your character.

  • Stephen Altrogge says:

    Rachael – Yeah you’re right. This is an attitude that I need to be cultivating on a regular basis. It’s easy to just hang out with those you like, but we’re called to look to the interests of others as well.

  • Jason M says:

    Stephen, I got saved and [some years later] just happened to stumble upon your blog.

    Chris Tomlin might not be jealous of you, but I’ve been listening to you and your dad’s songs on “In a Little While” quite a bit recently, and now they are all stuck in my head and getting sung around the house.

    I’ve heard you preach a couple of times (YC), and still remember the pinkie of punishment.

    Can’t say that I’ve seen you play sports, but you posted a soccer video that had some great moves in it, so I guess that counts for something.

    But as much as you might want to be great, this post was an example of why I keep coming back to your blog: you and your dad so consistently point me back to The Blazing Center.

  • Stephen Altrogge says:

    Jason M – You got me chuckling. Thanks for the encouragement! May the pinkie of punishment live on…

  • Jason M says:

    No doubt it has lead to several great awakenings already.

  • Anonymous says:

    I’ve been catching up on my blog reading and I must say, I’ve been particularly blessed by your recent posts. Thank you so much for faithfully writing on the Gospel. It’s amazing how pertinent God’s truth is to every single circumstance.

  • Stephen Altrogge says:

    Thanks for your encouragement! I’m glad you’ve found the posts helpful…

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