A new year always brings about a desire to be a better version of one’s self, but being great isn’t something that just happens. Like most successful outcomes, being great starts with a decision that greatness is the standard by which we want to be remembered.
In Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Street Sweeper” speech, Dr. King parallels the work ethic and success of a street sweeper to those of renowned composers.
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Being great doesn’t just happened. It’s strategic. Dr. Dwayne K. Pickett, pastor of New Jerusalem Church in Jackson, Mississippi shared his formula for greatness during his church’s New Year’s Eve service in a sermon title “Great By Choice.”
Borrowing the title of best selling author James Collins’ book “Great By Choice”, audio from Dr. King’s “Street Sweeper” speech and taking a text from 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Dr. Pickett told the congregation, “if you are going to be great, it’s a choice you have to make. It’s the same thing that Dr. King was saying… regardless of what your lot is, regardless of what find that you are suppose to do, be the best at what you’ve been called to do. It doesn’t have to be the biggest or the richest, but simply take every part of you and be the best that you can be.”
No two persons paths or definitions of greatness are the same. However, there are some strategies shared by Dr. Pickett that are applicable regardless of standards or desire of greatness.
Have a clear vision on where you are trying to go. If not you will never get there. You have to decide now what it looks like to get to the place where God wants you to go. The Bible says write the vision and make it plain (Habakkuk 2:2-3). Your vision will not come overnight. It will take some perseverance. If your vision is not in writing you don’t have one.
Fanatical discipline is a tough one. It’s the ability to do the hard stuff when it’s easier not to do it. In life, people who don’t discipline themselves can’t go far. You have to discipline yourself to do right daily. You have to have a radical obedience to God to be different.
Not just planning, but detailed planning. Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly or a man beating the air (1 Corinthians 9:26). The big picture is your vision. Now, you have goals that you have to live out day by day; have to make decisions day by day to get to the vision, but it has to be a detailed plan. Where do you get the plan from? I look at other people who have accomplished things and I learn from them. I don’t just learn from their accomplishments, I learn from their failures too.
Fear of Failure
You have to start thinking about the consequences of not fulfilling all that God has called you to do. What will you miss out on? What will the next generation miss out on if you don’t do all that you are called to do? Paul said “I beat my body in order to bring it into subjection to make it my slave (1 Corinthians 9:27).” In other words, I’m not going to keep letting my flesh ruin my life. I’m not going to keep missing God’s best for my life because I’m going after temporary pleasures that have no lasting results.