Thursday, July 28, 2016

True Greatness

by Lisa Rector

“Giving consistent effort in the little things in day-to-day life leads to true greatness.”

President Howard W. Hunter taught that true greatness comes not from worldly success but from “thousands of little deeds… of service and sacrifice that constitute the giving, or losing, of one’s life for others and for the Lord.”

As mothers, we often feel as though we have lost our identity. As a mother, and even as a writer, I feel as if I am floundering in my life’s purpose. The other day, I had a thought, “What am I contributing to society? If I were to die today, what great deeds would loved ones mention at my funeral? As a stay-at-home mother, am I contributing enough to the family, especially on days when my health is flagging and I feel as if I do more lounging than productive deeds? Am I pulling my weight when my husband is out there, for many hours each week, putting food on the table?”

Does anyone else think these things? I bet you do! Often we feel as if we’ve dropped the ball or let ourselves down. We guilt ourselves to no end. Why do we do this to ourselves?

I’m here to share President Howard W. Hunter’s words about true greatness, because as I’ve realized over the years, and often tend to forget, the true greatness I’ve admired in others is not the world’s standard of greatness. The people I admire are often humble and meek individuals who quietly serve with no selfish thought or motivations. They are the people I try to emulate.

This is what the Spirit whispered to me during a Sunday School (Relief Society) lesson.

True Greatness is accomplishing great things or small things, while honoring who you really are, while emulating the Lord’s character, by giving consistent effort in the little thing over a long period of time. It’s being selfless. 

In 1905, President Joseph F. Smith made this most profound statement about true greatness. “Those things which we call extraordinary, remarkable, or unusual may make history, but they do not make real life. After all, to do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all mankind, is the truest greatness. To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman.”

Giving consistent effort in the little things in day-to-day life leads to true greatness. Specifically, it is the thousands of little deeds and tasks of service and sacrifice that constitute the giving, or losing, of one’s life for others and for the Lord. They include gaining a knowledge of our Father in Heaven and the gospel. They also include bringing others into the faith and fellowship of his kingdom. These things do not usually receive the attention or the adulation of the world.

The achievement of true greatness is a long-term process. It may involve occasional setbacks. The end result may not always be clearly visible, but it seems that it always requires regular, consistent, small, and sometimes ordinary and mundane steps over a long period of time. We should remember that it was the Lord who said, “Out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”

True greatness is never a result of a chance occurrence or a one-time effort or achievement. Greatness requires the development of character. It requires a multitude of correct decisions in the everyday choices between good and evil that Elder Boyd K. Packer spoke about when he said, “Over the years these little choices will be bundled together and show clearly what we value.” Those choices will also show clearly [who] we are.

If you endure to the end, and if you are valiant in the testimony of Jesus, you will achieve true greatness and will one day live in the presence of our Father in Heaven.

How can I practice true greatness? Here’s my personal list.

·       Study the scriptures, and other revelations, and implement the teachings in my life.
·       Rely on the Lord.
·       Be mindful of the Lord’s hand in my life.
·       Stop my personal rebellion. Be obedient in all things.

Where should you start?

Look at your potential. Seek the Spirit.
What are the specific little things that would be good to give more attention to?
Write down one step that you can be consistent with to achieve your true greatness.

Remember, it takes constant vigilance! But we, as daughters, have the divine potential to be truly great.

Thoughts and quotes taken from this talk.

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