South Park – North Park – Golden Hill

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pastorgraphs: “The End of Greatness”

E-Vangel Newsletter

January 19, 2015

Christ United Methodist Ministry Center

“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205
Pastorgraphs: “The End of Greatness”

Aaron David Miller’s recent book, “The End of Greatness: Why America Can't Have (and Doesn't Want) Another Great President” should give all Americans pause. I was fortunate to tune into CSPAN as Miller gave an interview about his idea. It was in the wee hours, and I desperately wanted to tune him out and go back to sleep. But his thesis captivated me, and still does.

Whether you agree with him or not, you might take a few moments to consider what “greatness” is. Consider if Miller is correct that we will never have another great president (or that we don’t even want another great president), and what it would cost us to have another great president. Now if you assume I am about to run off the straight and narrow and get into politics, I am not. My aim is to apply Miller’s logic to all professions (doctor, lawyer, teacher, preacher or custodian).

Before looking at Miller’s matrix of poor, good, near-great and great presidents, let’s jump ahead to see what he says are the qualities of greatness. Miller identifies “Three C’s of Greatness”. [Spoiler alert.] They are crisis, character and capacity.

If you haven’t read his book, you may be surprised he identifies only three presidents as great: Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Each of these presidents faced an existential national crisis, were men of extraordinary character (though not perfect), and had a unique capacity to see our nation through these greatest challenges in our history. 

Washington saw us through the challenge of the Revolution, and perhaps equally as difficult, our transformation from a fledgling federation of 13 colonies into a united nation. Lincoln saw us through what Miller called our greatest crisis that almost divided and destroyed our nation. FDR saw us through two major crises over a dozen years: saving our economy and capitalism itself, plus winning the war against totalitarianism.
Before you argue whether we will have another great president or not, understand that implies we will face another crisis like the Revolution, Civil War, Depression, or WWII. Miller states that without such crises, it is impossible to be a great president. By the grace of God, when such crises arise, we have had the extraordinary blessing of having such great men as these step up to the challenge. Next time, we may not be so fortunate!

The next presidential election is almost two years away. Yet the news last week was speculation about who is in, who is out, and who is most likely to be our next president. Not many talking heads were discussing who would be the greatest. They were talking about who could raise the most money, appease the critics and navigate the treacherous waters between liberals and conservatives (another way of saying talk out of both sides of their mouth) to get elected. And as long as we are focused on getting elected rather than doing what is right and best for our country, we deserve who and what we get!

I expect none of us will be called upon to save our nation like Washington, Lincoln or FDR. But we most likely will be called upon to save a child, home, family, finances, career, relationship, church, business, etc. Rather than complain when we face such a crisis, seek a way to achieve a great solution. Using Miller’s formula, that requires capacity and character. Capacity includes the God given gifts you received at birth to achieve your purpose in life. God will never ask you to do something He has not given you the gifts to accomplish. And character is, as I wrote in my book on integrity, the moral fiber that aligns our beliefs and actions. As Dr. Phil often says on his show, “Every crisis needs a hero.” When you, your family, business or church face a crisis, step up and be GREAT!

Steve Hartman’s CBS “On The Road” told the story last Friday of Charles Clark, custodian at Trinity High School in Euless, Texas. Over the years, Clark has become a mentor and surrogate father to many of the school’s kids, while at the same time taking pride in his custodial work.

"If I clean a toilet, and you sit on that toilet, you can rest assured that's the cleanest toilet you'll ever sit on," said Charles Clark.
People tend to see events in their lives as little “vignettes” where they are the main character and the other people are “supporting characters”. Are you, like Charles Clark, the hero of your vignettes? Or do you see yourself as the victim?

Be a hero! You cannot resolve every crisis, but you can be great in resolving or even just improving those you can. Be Great in ALL that you do!

If all of us would take a similar attitude as Charles Clark toward our life and work, overcoming the crises we inevitably face, exercising our character, and fulfilling the capacity God gave us to do what we were put here to do, then maybe greatness would not be so rare.

For Christ’s sake,
Bill Jenkins

From The Quote Garden:
“You going to tell me I don't have a good life? This custodial thing is working good for me.”
~Charles Clark, CBS “On the Road”
Photo credit:, royalty paid.

No comments: