Giving Up... My Hope for Greatness

Lent Series Button It’s shocking to read the conversation around the table of the last supper of Christ.

Christ breaks the bread, and foreshadows how His body will be brutally broken. He lifts the cup, and looks ahead to how His blood will be viciously shed. He looks around, and declares how His friends, now sitting with Him, will betray and abandon Him.

Sadness, vulnerability, and love infuse these words of Christ.

How will His disciples respond? With humility and brokenness? With compassion and gratefulness?


“Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them.” –Luke 22:24


I want to judge them. I do judge them. How could they be so blind? So callous? So unaware of what was really going on?

And yet.

I can hear the rational elements of the conversation.

Okay, Jesus. If you are leaving, who is going to take your place? I mean, we’ve built all this forward momentum. Remember last week when you were coming into the city? All the crowds gathered with those branches? We have to capitalize on that. Your message is so important. How can we keep it spreading?

You’ve developed us. We are ready. That’s what good leaders do, right? Pour into the next group to take their place?

It sounds logical. It could even sound holy. The hope to use our gifts. To fulfill our callings. To spread good news. To bring healing and hope to the world.

But often, there is another desire, lingering below the surface. The hope that along the way, there might just be a little greatness to be found for ourselves.

At least, that’s what happens to me.

Sometimes it’s because of the way my selfish ambition intermingles with my God-given dreams. But most of the time, if I’m honest, it’s something else.

My desire for greatness stems from my longing for validation.

I hope for the kind of affirmation that might finally silence the questions clouding my inner mind. Am I really any good at this? Do people value me? Is my voice important? What difference am I really making in this world?

Like the disciples, I miss the point that Jesus made over and over and over again.

Take up your cross and follow Me. I didn’t come to be served, but to serve. Whoever loses his life will find it. Don’t gain the world and lose your soul. Whoever wants to become great, should become the least.

Greatness {whatever that even means} will never validate me. It is a food that will only make me hungrier; especially if it’s the satisfaction I crave most.

My significance is not based on how many people share my words. My value is not based on how many wonderful things I have done in the world. My importance is not based on how many people I lead.

It’s possible to seek all these makers of greatness “in the name of Christ” and miss the message of Christ all together.

Jesus breaks bread and says it is through His body we will never be hungry. Jesus pours wine and says it is through His blood we will never be thirsty.

Our Jesus deems us worth dying for. That is our validation. That is our greatness. That is why we serve.

Christ’s love is our satisfaction.

Giving Up… is a Lenten Series asking a question: What if we gave up more than external things for Lent? It’s not a belief that we can get rid of our baggage as easily as we can write a blog post. But, it is a belief that admitting those things that keep us from deeper intimacy with Christ is a good start. {Please note, this isn’t in any way meant to be a critique of those giving up something external. Often that is connected to the internal in a powerful way. In my case, though, I realized that the external sacrifice was hindering me from dealing with what was going on below the surface.}

Calling leaders to account

God calls the judges into his courtroom,    he puts all the judges in the dock.

 “Enough! You’ve corrupted justice long enough,     you’ve let the wicked get away with murder. You’re here to defend the defenseless,     to make sure that underdogs get a fair break; Your job is to stand up for the powerless,     and prosecute all those who exploit them.”

Ignorant judges! Head-in-the-sand judges!     They haven’t a clue to what’s going on. And now everything’s falling apart,     the world’s coming unglued.

 “I commissioned you judges, each one of you,     deputies of the High God, But you’ve betrayed your commission     and now you’re stripped of your rank, busted.”

O God, give them their just deserts!     You’ve got the whole world in your hands! -Psalm 82 (The Message)


This Psalm raises more questions than answers for me. I wonder if I could turn some of those questions over to you.


In the days of Israel, a Psalm like this makes sense. In a theocracy, in which God was thought to appoint the leaders, people would naturally cry out for Him to make a change when those leaders weren't acting according to His ways.


But what do you think God's role is in appointing leaders today? In the world? In His Church? That's especially hard to answer when we see leaders who oppress. Did God have a role in bringing them to power? And why hasn't He stopped their abuses?


Do you pray, as this Psalm does, that God would soon call his leaders into account, especially those who have abused their position? Or do you fear that such a judgment would come in a wide net that would catch many of us in its threads?


Would you pray for justice in a situation in which evil seems to have gained the upper hand? Would you pray that those leaders to be called into account? Or would you instead pray for a change of heart and an outpouring of grace? Or both?


What do you see in the words of this Psalm to emulate? What do you see that brings you pause?


I don't find the answers to any of those questions very easy, or very satisfying for that matter. Though, I do hope that someday, somehow, unjust leaders would be brought down from their position, and the world would be changed for the better.


That was my reflection on Psalm 82. Stop back next week for a reflection on Psalm 83.

On Bossiness, Passion, and Fire

In school, I was always the one to take control during group projects.  

I am still a leader, but I have changed. Lately, I have been questioning whether some of the changes I thought were for the better may actually have been for the worse.


I am honored to be writing about that for Prodigal Magazine today. Here's an excerpt.


When I was in fourth grade, I kicked my friend out of my house.


She dared to ask to play a different game than the one I suggested. So, I yelled at her. I screamed in her face that it was my house, and if she didn’t want to play my game my way, she should just go home. She thought I was joking. I wasn’t. I persisted in my shouting until she finally did walk out the door. (She was a neighbor, so it wasn’t a big deal, besides being incredibly rude.)


As a child, I was called names like “bossy” and “know-it-all.” Those insults were based in truth.


- Read more of Putting a Lid on My Fire on Prodigal Magazine