Did you know we can cultivate greatness in our lives? In fact, if we want to find fulfillment in life we have to deliberately discipline ourselves to this end.
It is a part of human nature to desire to have impact. We were all put on this earth to make a difference. In the the very first chapter in the Bible we read that God created humans to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion” (Genesis 1:28).
Whether you are trying to make your mark in business, shaping lives as an educator, raising kids at home, fighting for change in a humanitarian organization or volunteering at your local church, at the end of the day we all strive to leave this world better than we found it. If you are not engaged in something similar, you are probably filling a void in your life or a longing for something more.
So why is it so challenging to bring about the change that we all dream about? Why is it so challenging for an inner city teacher to foster the grit and determination in students required to rise above social expectations and limitations? Why is it so challenging to shift the culture of a working environment? Why is it so tough to raise kids well?
Perhaps, it is so difficult, because as William Blake observed, “Great things get accomplished when men and mountains meet.” The very thing you are struggling with is a struggle because there is greatness on the other side.
“Great things get accomplished when men and mountains meet.” – William Blake
How many of us are willing to push through when the hard times come? When hope seems to be nothing more than a glimmer in the distance, fading fast, who is willing to charge into the darkness and strive towards the light? I would like to suggest three disciplines we can each engage to help when we meet mountains.
Three Disciplines That Cultivate Greatness:
- Narrow Your Focus
- Cultivate Your Garden
- Keep on Trying
Perhaps the reason so many of us struggle to keep on trying, is that we spread ourselves too thin. So many of us seek to excel in as many areas as possible. To reference the old idiom, we strive to be “a jack of all trades” and in so doing, become “a master of none. The great warrior poet, King David ruminated on this when he wrote, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” Psalm 27:4. Only when we narrow our focus on the essential things in life will we ever truly cultivate greatness.
Our world needs people like you and I to, as Dale Carnegie wrote, “keep on trying when there seems to be no hope at all.” If we are to live out the words of Dale Carnegie, we need to find out and focus on that for which were were put on earth to accomplish.
“The most important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” – Dale Carnegie
Voltaire, in his classic short story Candide, resonated with the idea of narrowing ones focus to find true fulfillment. After traveling the world on numerous fantastical adventures, the protagonist Candide returns to his home with the self actualized realization, “All I know… is that we must cultivate our garden.”So what is your garden? What are you on earth to accomplish? What needs to be removed and decluttered in your life, so that you can thrive in the area that you are designed to contribute? Only when we answer these questions will we find ourselves with the bandwidth to focus on making our own garden spectacular. And it is out of a place of a thriving personal garden that we will find the inner fortitude to accomplish the greatness that God desires for each of us.
“All I know… is that we must cultivate our garden.” – Voltaire
One of the great privileges of my life has been watching my incredible and gorgeous wife cultivate the garden of our home. As she is raising our two beautiful and wildly rambunctious daughters she is an amazing example grace, self sacrifice and determination. She is firm when necessary and yet constantly compassionate. She truly is the best mom I know. We often talk about how difficult it is to be consistent as parents and the blood, sweat and tears required to raise little Emma and Ruby to be the great women we know God has charged us to help them become.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting Lisa Jo Baker, and author and blogger, who writes predominately on the topic of parenting and motherhood. Although I am not a mom, her perspective on parenting hit home in a powerful way. She said that parenting “is hard, because it is supposed to be hard.” She pointed out that the endurance and persistence required to parent well, is difficult because it is not supposed to be easy. The larger and more significant the task, the more challenging and difficult it is to accomplish. Great accomplishments are worth the effort, but they can only be achieved if we develop the disciplines required to press through the times where hope is scarce, energy is low and will power is fading.
Greatness is in you! I believe God wants to accomplish greatness through you. Will you narrow your focus, cultivate your garden and keep on trying?