“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Nelson Mandela
Last night as I attended a spiritual talk I was struck by the poignancy of these words. I began to ask myself what has held me back from achieving the greatness that the Lord has called me to? As I thought about this here are the phrases that impacted me the most.
"Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us." How could this be? How could greatness inspire fear? Maybe the reason for this is that once a person acknowledges that they have greatness then an overwhelming responsibility begins to emerge. Jesus even said, "To much who has been given much will be expected." The person confronted by greatness realizes inwardly that he/she can't rest on their laurels anymore. They have a newfound duty, a new accountability towards humanity. If they don't act then the whole of humanity suffers. It is so much easier to say instead, "I am not great, I have nothing to offer" because by doing this one can continue living without consequence then complacency eclipses the greatness.
"Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. " How many times have we squandered our greatness because of the negative reactions of others? The reality is that we are all broken as humans. As Christians we believe that the cause of this was Adam & Eve's original sin because through their disobediance man inherited concupescience. Concupscience can be simply defined as having an stubborn preference for the easy way out. Unchecked this tendency can be devastating causing one to waste away their God given potential for greatness. I know that often I have sacrificed my own uniquness under the guise being polite.
"And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
If you study the lives of those who have acheived greatness you will realize several similar features in all of them. I came up with a brief list. I will call it the 6 stages of greatness
1) Fear of greatness
2) Wrestling internally, weighing of greatness
3) Inner acknowledgment and acceptance of greatness potential
4) Heroic, personal sacrifice for greatness
5) Public rejection of greatness
6) Public acceptance of greatness.
It is my personal prayer that we all embrace our collective greatness and change the world through the process!