Glory Dreams

Children’s author and educator Paul Mullen was promoting his recent book as part of his “Every Child Has a Dream” campaign. Mullen asked some of the children in attendance to stand up and share their special dream in front of the group. Most of the children spoke of sports. One first-grade girl transparently admitted, “Someday I want to be able to boss around my Mommy and Daddy.”

Do you remember your favorite childhood daydream? Mine always involved Indiana basketball. Maybe yours involved a walk-off home run in the World Series? Did you dream of being a princess. . .or a soldier. . .or the president of the United States?

It seems to me that dreams of greatness are universal across every human culture. The settings may differ, but these dreams are always variations on a theme: your success in the chosen activity is your ticket to personal glory and greatness. Every head will turn, and you will be the center of attention. You will be noticed. You will be the envy of every person who isn’t fortunate enough to be . . . you. We all want to be large and in charge.

Recently in chapel, I challenged our resident students and faculty with the thought that while dreams of personal glory may be human, they can be spiritually lethal for the followers of Jesus Christ – and especially disciples who want to be vocational ministers.

The story we studied together is found in Mark 10:32-45, where Jesus patiently confronts His followers about their lust for rank and power (following the glory-grabbing request by James and John to have seats of honor in the coming kingdom). Jesus explains that true greatness, which He modeled, is making yourself low and least and last because of the truth of the Gospel (v. 45).

Are you struggling with obsessive ambition for personal glory? Then look at Jesus on the cross and think about your greatness. We are great sinners. We are great debtors to grace that we could never repay.

If you want to dream of true greatness today, then dream of ways to make yourself low and least and last as a servant to others. God has put people around you today who need you to be a servant like Jesus – how are you planning to serve them?

About Sam Harbin
I am the President of Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA as well as the Chair and Professor of Pastoral Theology.

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