Ministry Leaders, Stop Trying to Be Great and Start Doing This

Pittsburgh Penguins, 2016 Stanley Cup Champions
Pittsburgh Penguins, 2016 Stanley Cup Champions (Pittsburgh Penguins Facebook page)

Greatness. It's a term we hear over and over.

Becoming the best we can be. Reaching your potential. Living the dream.

Kobe Bryant—absolute greatness. The Pittsburgh Penguins—greatness.

I'm sure you can think of other people in the greatness category.

When we think of greatness we see the Stanley Cup. We see the accolades and awards. But greatness starts way before that. For you, it starts right now.

Before we begin, a working definition of greatness is probably in order, because you may hear the word and shudder. You might not be interested in making a name for yourself or being famous or creating something that goes all over the world.

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Greatness has nothing to do with that.

Greatness has more to do with the unseen parts of your life. Greatness is who you are.

Why? Because what is visible to the world is the outflow of what is cultivated in secret.

So let's break down a few things you can do:

1. Find people to serve. Let's look at a couple verses of Scripture:

"He who is greatest among you shall be your servant. For he who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Matt. 23:11-12, MEV).

And this:

"But it shall not be so among you. Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever among you would be greatest must be servant of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:43-45, MEV).

Greatness, according to the Bible, is serving. It's taking a lowly position. The question to ask isn't, "How can I become great?" It's, "How can I serve the most people? How can I lay down my life for others?"

This makes a massive difference in how you approach your meetings, rehearsals and Sunday mornings. You start to filter your decision-making through a pastoral lens. You think about what your people need over what makes you feel successful and what makes you sound good.

2. Practice. The hardest thing about practice is that it's hard. And the fact that nobody sees it. Any musician knows the rush of interacting with a live audience on stage—such energy, feedback and mission.

Then there's the vocal warmups in front of the mirror.

The rudiments on the drum pad.

The scales to a metronome on your guitar.

No claps, compliments or celebrations. Just the steady boredom of you. Alone. Doing what's hard.

No one would recommend auditioning for the NBA without practice. You have a zero percent chance of being Carrie Underwood's touring drummer if you've never practiced drums.

My suggestion? Pick something that's hard for you as a worship leader, musician, leader, spouse or parent. Work on that everyday for a week. See what happens.

3. Find a teacher. It's a myth to think we can be self-made. No one is self-made. In some way or another, we all have teachers. Teachers don't need to be in-person mentors. It's simply a matter of finding someone who's further along than you and studying what they do.

If you can meet in person or be mentored by them, great. But the "I don't have a mentor" conversation is no excuse.

Watch what the greats do. Buy their books. Buy their music. Analyze their form.

Remember, greatness starts now with the unseen. Don't worry about becoming great. Find people to serve with humility. Practice hard things when no one is looking. Study those who are doing what you want to do.

Do you have any insight into this?

What is your perspective on greatness?

David Santistevan is a worship pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For the original article, visit

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