Monday, January 23, 2006
A Small Quote from a Great Woman (or A Great Quote from a Small Woman)
“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
- Mother Teresa
I first heard this quote about nine years ago. It’s one of those quotes that have stuck with me, popping up on my radar again and again to offer me truth and perspective. It first impacted me when I started working at George Fox University and felt completely inadequate in my position. I was comforted by the realization that I didn’t have to be spectacular in my work; I just needed to focus on loving students. Later a group of 20 college students and I pondered these words during our eye-opening, heart-opening visit to India. Now, in a completely different season of life, these words showed up on the new Sara Groves cd, once again grounding me in reality.
A year ago, the Census Bureau reported there were 5.4 million stay-at-home-moms in the U.S. It’s hard for me to feel like I’m doing something great when I’m doing the same thing as 5.4 million other people. Somewhere in my thinking, the idea of greatness got tied to the idea of uniqueness. And somewhere in my priorities the idea of being great got tied to the idea of what’s really important in this life.
Jesus, in his typical fashion, went and turned the concept of greatness upside down.
The apostles got into an argument about which one of them was the greatest. So Jesus told them:
“Foreign kings order their people around, and powerful rulers call themselves everyone's friends. But don't be like them. The most important one of you should be like the least important, and your leader should be like a servant. Who do people think is the greatest, a person who is served or one who serves? Isn't it the one who is served? But I have been with you as a servant.”
- Luke 22:24-27 (CEV)
Hmm… so according to Jesus, greatness equals service. Blast!
In that case, I guess I would add an extra little tag to Mother Teresa’s quote. “We can do no great things, only small things with great love. (This is true greatness).” We may have to relinquish power and position, but Jesus never said service had to be boring or that it had to look the same for everyone. I may have the same job title as 5.4 million other American women, but at least I can go about my small things with not only great love, but also great individuality!