Flipped Upside Down


“Greatness is earned. It is not a gift; it is a reward. It is not accidental; it is cultivated.”[1] This is a quote that stood out to me from the book, Practicing Greatness by Reggie McNeal, I just finished reading for one of my seminary courses. The book seeks to highlight the different disciplines of cultivating greatness. McNeal builds a case for the intentionality of the Christian life. This book does not deny that grace is a free gift and salvation is something that is not earned by any means. However, what we become and how we grow after salvation is a topic the New Testament covers in at great length. There are ways in which one can become great and ways in which one can insure he will never be great. God does not want to use vessels that are not willing to work for it. “Deliberate mediocrity is a sin.”[2] That is to say allowing yourself to be average and mediocre is not pleasing to God, “rather train yourself for godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7, ESV).[3]  McNeal writes about seven disciplines for godly spiritual leaders. The disciplines of self-awareness, self-management, self-development, mission, decision making, belonging, and aloneness are the seven key factors in a great leader.

In his introduction, the author describes his intent for writing by saying “the book aims to encourage many of you to choose a path toward greatness.”[4] He also goes on to lay down his challenge for the need of the book. The book raises the awareness for the necessity of its topic and the urgency for the reader to take notice. He points to the Kingdom of God as the foundational need for real leaders. He makes aware the extreme lack of great leaders and the absolute propensity of average leaders often by necessity than real skill. Today’s world and culture needs great leaders that are willing to usher in the kingdom of God into the hearts of mankind in the 21st century.

This book made an impact on myself because I think “greatness” is something that is a sort of “faux pas” when it comes to Christian circles. In fact, the Men’s Bible study we just finished going through, Kingdom Man by Tony Evans, covered much of this very idea. Tony Evans, explains that true Christian greatness is not what is associated with arrogant materialistic betterment.

“We commonly think of greatness in terms of power, wealth, and prestige. It’s easy to recognize greatness because it’s riding in the shiny new car or working on the top floor of the office building. Greatness has the fully funded 401(k) and owns the skybox at the arena. But in the kingdom of God, the definition of greatness is flipped upside down.[5]

This “flipped expectation” is exactly what we have been talking about on Sunday mornings in our “Miracle of Christmas” series. God is the King of the unexpected. God brings low what we thought was high and he brings high what we thought was low. He smooths out what was rough and straightens out what is crooked (Luke 3:4-6). After-all, the Son of the Most High was born in a manger. Let us this Christmas experience God’s greatness and since we trust in His greatness we too desire to reflect that greatness in the way we live our lives. Let us expect the unexpected because we serve God who flips our expectations.

In Christ,
Jordan Moody

[1] Reggie McNeal, Practicing Greatness: 7 Disciplines of Extraordinary Spiritual Leaders (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006), 9.[2] Ibid., 1.[3] Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages are referenced in the English Standard Version.[4] Ibid., 7.[5] Tony Evans, Kingdom Man, (Nashville, TN: Lifeway Press, 2012).

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