Do you know who Darryl Strawberry is? He is, above all things, a man of many talents.
Most people who know his name know that he is a former major league baseball player, playing for such teams as the Mets and the Yankees. He played eight or nine times in all-star games and was an intimidating player.
In the eyes of some, Darryl Strawberry is a great man. In the eyes of others, he was a troubled man who led a troubled life.
I am not concerned with the troubled part of Darryl Strawberry’s life since I don’t know him personally or the true details of the lifestyle he is said to have lived.
What I am interested in for the purpose of our discussion today is a statement I recently heard him make. He said, “Greatness comes when you put the work in.”
What does it mean to be great? The New Oxford American Dictionary gives the following definitions for great and greatness:
Great—“the ability, quality or eminence considerably above the normal or average”
Greatness—“the quality of being great, distinguished, or eminent”
If we use the definitions from the dictionary, Darryl Strawberry would, in the minds of some, be considered a great man. But what is great in the eyes of God?
A mother once went to Jesus with a request. She felt justified in her request because her sons, James and John, were disciples of Jesus. She even knelt before the Lord as she asked Him; “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom” (Matthew 20:21 ESV).
Simply stated, she wanted her sons to be elevated above the other disciples and be placed in distinguished positions in the Lord’s kingdom. Of course, we must keep in mind that she thought His kingdom was to be an earthly kingdom.
Jesus reacted to James and John with this question, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” (Verse 22). They replied that they we able to do this.
Jesus explained to them that they would drink of the cup of which He would drink, meaning they would suffer as He would suffer. It was not, however, His place to give special recognition.
The following verses are applicable to our topic of greatness. He said, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28).
On another occasion, Jesus and the disciples were making their way to the city of Capernaum. When they arrived, Jesus asked them what they were talking about on the way. Scripture says that they didn’t answer Him because they had been discussing who was the greatest.
Jesus knew, of course, exactly what they were saying. So, He sat down with them; and this is what He said to them. “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:33-35).
To prove His point, He took a child and put him in the middle of the group. He actually took this child up in His arms, and He explained His previous statement to them. He said, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me” (Mark 9:36-37).
When we become a servant, we become great. When we do for others, we are doing for God.
Darryl Strawberry was right! Greatness comes when we put the work in. Greatness comes when we serve. Greatness comes when we put others before ourselves.