The Measure of Greatness


Donald Trump ran for president of the United States using the slogan, “Make America Great Again.” It was a phrase that resonated with many people, even with some who did not prefer Donald Trump, himself.


Defining great

How does one define what is considered “great,” however? 

It is usually defined by success or winning either by making the highest score, having the best economy, or accomplishing more than everyone else. Whoever wins is great, certainly greater than whoever lost.

This is not only true in the minds of those who want to, “Make America Great Again,” but is also the majority opinion of our society. Participation trophies exist because we value the feeling of greatness. We know how important it is to us so we try to make sure everyone feels like they have also won. After the Super Bowl, the winner is considered great, and the loser is quickly forgotten. Second place may have been good, but not good enough, and good does not matter when we desire greatness.

defining good

God measures greatness differently than we do, however. God thinks that being good is better than being great. He determines true greatness by genuine goodness, not by winning. While it is true that we should strive to succeed, we must not think of success as being more than what it is. God is more concerned with the inner quality of the heart being good, rather than the outward action appearing great.

Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous quote concerning the greatness of America is true for a nation, as well as for an individual. He stated, America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. His words reflect God’s perspective on greatness. Greatness is not marked by worldly achievement, but by the level of Godly morality exhibited as an expression of the heart.

God said that the one who is greatest in God’s kingdom is the one who is the servant of all (Mark 9:35). When God came to earth in human flesh, He came as a servant. His nature was fully good. If a person wants to be great, then, like Jesus, that person must be good. The same is true for a nation. If we want to make America (or any nation) great again, that nation can only become good when its individuals decide that being good in God’s eyes is more important than being great in the eyes of the world. And since Jesus said, “There is none good but God,” (Mark 10:18) we can only be good by following Him. Greatness is measured by goodness, and goodness comes only through our surrender to Jesus Christ.