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What the Bible Says About Greatness

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Greatness: Definition

Greatness is defined as being distinguished, popular, eminent, skillful, and powerful. Greatness is a term that gives the impression that someone or something is superior or better than others. Some rulers have been given the distinction in their names, such as Alexander the Great, Frederick the Great, and Catherine the Great. These days, there is an acronym for someone who is great. It is GOAT which means "Greatest of all time." Therefore, people delight in being called a GOAT.

Jesus had two disciples who were brothers. James and John approached Jesus and said, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (Mark 10:37). Jesus explained that it is God's decision who takes the seats of honor in heaven. In other words, a person cannot request to be great. That description must be assigned by others, and not by individuals as their own distinction.

What Does the Bible Say About Greatness?

While the world thinks greatness is one thing, the Bible explains it a different way. Jesus says in Luke 9:48 that greatness comes to those who are humble like little children.

"Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoevr is the least among you is the greatest."

It is true that most people strive for recognition, attention, popularity, power, and status. On the other hand, Jesus encouraged His followers to do the exact opposite, according to Matthew 20:16.

"And so it is, that many who are first now will be last then; and those who are last now will be first then."

In other words, in order to be rewarded in heaven, people should be content to work behind the scenes instead of pushing themselves to the front of the line to be seen. God wants His children to serve with humility in the Kingdom of God. Those who serve others with humility are the ones who will receive greatness.

Greatness Is Measured Four Different Ways

1. Greatness belongs to those who do not care about being recognized.

Many people measure greatness by being on top of something and being the first to do something worthwhile. We hear it in the news all the time about someone being first to do something or being successful for some outstanding achievement. In the Kingdom of God, being the first or on top hinders and does not make a person greater than anyone else.

2. Greatness is measured by service.

Serving others keeps us aware of the needs of others instead of focusing on how popular we want to be ourselves.

"The more lowly your service to others, the greater you are. To be the greatest, be a servant. But those who think themselves great shall be disappointed and humbled; and those who humble themselves shall be exalted." (Matthew 22:23:11-12)

3. Greatness is characterized by humility.

John the Baptist is a perfect example of one who showed humility in the Bible. He admitted he was not worthy to perform the humble task of unfastening His sandals. Like John the Baptist, we should let pride and self-importance disappear in order to serve Christ.

"I baptize with water, but among you stands one who you do not know. He is the one who comes after e, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie." (John 1:26-27)

4. Greatness is being content to serve without recognition.

Even though John the Baptist was a well-known preacher before Jesus was, he was content to leave his large crowds and step aside so Jesus could take the higher place. That was true humility.

We should follow John the Baptist's example whether it is in preaching, teaching, or serving God. When we are content to serve without recognition, then God will do great things through us.


When you expect a gold star, a plaque, a certificate, or a reward of some kind on earth every time you serve God and His people, then you would have received your reward in full and that is all you will ever get. If you wait for God to reward you in heaven then you will get the greatest reward of all. (Matthew 6:2-4)

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