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Unassuming Greatness

Some great moments are obvious. The stakes are clear. The stage is set. The actors perform their roles well. Everyone is moved. Maybe it’s a fine speech at a political rally, or a celebration of a successful business launch, or a culminating event at a massive church conference. These are great moments we’ve come to expect.

But some great moments are unscripted. They happen at unexpected times. The actions and words may be improvised. In fact, if we don’t pay attention it could slip by us. But if we catch it, we become witnesses to something sublime.

I was privileged to catch one of those moments last week in China. Like I said in my previous blog, I attended a conference for Chinese pastors and leaders from our movement. On the third day a routine announcement of the org chart turned into one of the most exceptional leadership moments I’ve witnessed.

The Set-Up:

The leadership of our movement there was a five-person team. But with great growth and expansion, they needed to tighten the decision-making and the national leadership team was reduced to three. It made sense. It was good organizational practice. But they took it further.

The Moment:

They honored the two men who were stepping down and thanked them for their service. Then they gave one of them the microphone. He started giving all the reasons why his removal was a good decision and why he trusted the new team:

“I am here to serve. I’ve been happy to serve the whole nation while I could. But now that I’m stepping down I can focus on my city. There is much to do.

I have all confidence and trust in our three leaders. They are great men. I am happy to follow them. They are the best leaders for our movement. I’m glad that decisions will be made quicker and wiser. Let’s all embrace this change. This is only going to be good for us and it will honor God.”

I was stunned. Many similar transitions are met with drama, division, or open hostility. This one was very light and hopeful. This was only possible by the tremendous humility in that man and the unity in their team.

Imagine two political candidates talking in a closed room. Then they emerge and one says, “We’ve decided that my opponent should have the position. He’s a better leader and it will be better for the nation. I can’t wait to support his leadership.”

Or imagine two executives who have been competing for the same promotion, until one says, “After considering our company’s current season and the skills we bring to the table, I believe she should have the job. It’s what’s best for the company. We’ll all benefit from this.”

These men had taken team leadership to a different level. More than their intelligence and hard work, this display of servant leadership made me hopeful for their success. They really applied what the Bible says in Romans 12:11,

“Outdo one another in showing honor.”

The world around us competes to outdo one another in wealth, in power, in possessions, in Facebook friends, Instagram followers, and social media presence. The foremost priority is the self. The world should revolve around us.

In contrast, God commands us to outdo ourselves in honoring others. That’s what made that moment so great – those people weren’t thinking about themselves. They were honoring God and others. If we want to achieve greatness, we must honor others.

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