I was really struck by President Howard W. Hunter’s teaching about the true meaning of greatness that we discussed today in Church. In particular, Howard W. Hunter emphasized that many “feel that we are falling short of our expected ideals” because “inflated expectations of the world alter the definition of greatness.”
The world’s ideal of greatness is one based on “glamor” and “boundless riche[s].” It is one where character is relegated to second tier. I believe that it is inevitable that we begin to emulate that which we idolize. If the crude, lewd and immoral become our heroes then we will move towards those values. On the other hand if we strive to emulate the kind, wise, and moral then our character as a people and individually will improve.
The world’s standard of greatness leads us to constantly “make comparisons between what we are and what others are–or seem to be– and also between what we have and what others have.” We are prone to compare our worst to others best and to put ourselves down. We “often allow unfair and improper comparisons to destroy our happiness when they cause us to feel unfulfilled or inadequate or unsuccessful .” And we therefore ignor[e] aspects of our lives that may contain elements of true greatness.”
This is today easier then ever with social media constantly bombarding us with others posturing and showing off their best. We become certain that the ordinary things we have in life can never compare.
I saw this with my father who despite having three children and three beautiful grandchildren always compared his accomplishments in life with the standards of the world and felt inadequate. He felt regrets because he felt that he had fallen short of greatness.
President Hunter taught so profoundly that having an eternal perspective is the only cure to this. When we understand what truly matters we can be certain that it is the mundane or ordinary which truly leads to greatness. Our daily struggles and triumphs are what truly make us great. And ultimately it is Jesus Christ and his gospel that makes something extraordinary out of the ordinary. “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.”