24 June 2015

Measuring "Greatness"

One of the "bizarre" paradoxes in the world is how greatness is measured. We often measure it by whoever finishes first, whoever has the most money, or who is the most powerful. 
       "The first shall be last and the last first," said Jesus to his followers who were elbowing each other out of the way for positions of power. Now THAT is different!
       Today we measure success, influence, and "greatness" by new and unique measures:
   ~ Number of "followers" on Twitter;
   ~ Number of "friends" on Facebook;
   ~ Number of hits on your  website;
   ~ Number of readers of your blog;
   ~ Number of books sold;
   ~ Number of people who attend your seminar or training;
   ~ Number of people who regularly attend your church.
       This is about popularity, and exposure, getting known and staying known, and it is about economic survival because you need a following to raise money or sell tickets or books or seminars.
       And yet ... the truly GREAT ONES, the men and women whose lives and leadership are enduring and full of legacy are so fundamentally different than all of that.
       They are characterized by another set of qualities, far more subtle and nuanced than the list above:
     * Faith and Faithfulness: They do not simply BELIEVE in God and faith, they LIVE faith. And because of this, they are rock solid and dependable. When they say "yes" they always mean "yes," When they say "no" they always mean "no." With these great ones, what you see is what you get. There is no duplicity in them.
     * Service to Others: Life and work and service is not about THEM, but always about others. In a world of leaders who are self-centered and often narcissistic, the truly great ones do not call attention to themselves. Ever.
     * Shunning the Spotlight: The truly great ones "share all the credit and take all the blame." What matters to them is the MISSION and getting the job done. They do not need or even want the credit publicly. In fact, if the people pictured below were alive today they would each say something like this about this blog post: "Quit writing that nonsense and get on with life, Brian!"
     * Honoring their Commitments: The men below were married for 57, 59, and 66 years respectively. Each was married only once, each stayed with their wife "til death do us part." When they started something they finished it.
      * Generous Spirits. They are givers - regardless of how much material wealth they have. They give time, they give attention, they give their gifts and abilities for the good of others, and they give materially.
     * "It's Not About Me." In the 21st century we are a self-obsessed culture. We take "selfies," which is a word that did not even exist 10 years ago! The truly great ones NEVER want it to be about them. They deflect praise and shine light on other people and their accomplishments.
       Over an 8-month period beginning last September I said good-bye to three of these truly GREAT ONES - Frank Banner, my dad (Marty Newman), and Nate Lindsay. Yes, I am sad not to be able to relate to them any more. More than that, I am humbled and honored to have known them and walked this journey with each in different ways. When I grow up I want to be like them.

Marty Newman: 1925 - 2015

Nate Lindsay: 1936 - 2015
Frank Banner: 1927 - 2014

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