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Who is the Greatest: Calling Forth the Best

Posted: September 19, 2015 by Rob Voyle

The revised common lectionary Gospel Lesson for this Sunday has the Disciples contemplating who amongst them is the greatest. What I find fascinating in this passage is that while the Disciples were embarrassed by their apparent egotism, Jesus never rebuked them for wanting to be great. Instead he taught them how to be great. Too often I have preached against the evils of vain glory and bitter envy, as James in the Epistle describes, rather than teach people how to be great by serving others, and as James describes, by acts of mercy and wisdom.

Take a moment and think of when you have been great, in your zone manifesting your best and notice how others were being served. What I find interesting about those time is that there is no ego striving. There may be great effort expended and at the end of the day I may be tired, but I am also inspired rather than exhausted.

There is good and bad within each one of us. Our task is to call forth the best from ourselves and one another. Focusing our efforts on trying to prevent or stop the bad won't make us great. The war on drugs and the war on terror have clearly not worked and have simply called forth the worst from many. St. Paul's conundrum of struggling not to do something he doesn't want to do is a great example of how all that struggle just makes things worse.

Helping people discover and be their best is at the heart of the Appreciative Way, for it is when people are at their best that they most closely manifest the image of God that God created them to be. This is the you God new before you were born.

To create a better church we don't need better people, we simply need to call forth the best from the people we have. Here are some questions to ponder:

What do you need to be your best?
What do the people you serve need to be their best?
What do you and they need to do collectively to create a culture in which you call forth the best from each other?

I wish you great joy in being great?

Rob Voyle
Director, Clergy Leadership Institute

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