However, I can't help but wonder if the way a Christian creates a pocket of greatness isn't fundamentally different from what Jim Collins has in mind. This past weekend, I did a little research to see what I could dig up on how Collins might define greatness. I was surprised to discover this rather interesting interview from Christianity Today where Collins expounds on his view of greatness in the social sector, highlighting churches in particular. Among the many good things said in the interview, he makes the point that for an organization to be great, it must have three components - superior performance relative to its mission, a distinctive impact on its community and endurance.
There are many useful insights to be gleaned from the writings of Jim Collins and other management gurus. However, I'd like to suggest that despite the immense popularity of Good to Great, his definition of greatness is deficient as a model for Christians in the workplace. Not completely invalid, but perhaps insufficient when measured against a biblical model.
When greatness is spoken of in the Bible, it is defined by the essential mark of humility. To his credit, Jim Collins does identify humility as a key feature of level 5 leadership, the kind of leadership essential to leading a company to greatness. He says "leaders who took companies from good to great are characterized by personal humility and by a fierce dedication to a cause that is larger than themselves".
However, I think there is a subtle difference between the kind of level 5 leadership characterized by humility and what Jesus says when he speaks of greatness.
It seems to me that when Jesus says this, he isn't saying "if you want to someday attain greatness, you need to pay your dues by being humble". Humility isn't just a stepping stone on the journey to greatness. Instead I think he's making the point that the essence of greatness is humility.
And what is humility? CJ Mahaney helps us out with this quote from his book, Humility - True Greatness.
Serving others for the glory of God. This is the genuine expression of humility; this is true greatness as the Savior defined it.
If you agree with CJ's definition of humility, no true humility is possible without a view towards the glory of God.
Here's the point of this long winded post. As I thought about it, I'm convinced that as Christians, we must possess a biblical definition of greatness, before we venture off to create pockets of greatness everywhere. In Jim Collin's model, greatness is measured by a successful outcome with humility as an interesting, possibly necessary attribute to great leadership. In Jesus' model, greatness isn't even remotely possible without humility...it is in fact, equated with humility...and humility is defined by service to others for the glory of God.
I'd like to extend CJ's point on humility to include this additional idea...humility isn't just serving others for God's glory but doing so with the means and strength he supplies. We were never meant to pursue greatness apart from God. We were meant to pursue greatness by serving God and depending on God.
In fact, pursuing greatness, apart from God, even if it involves well-intended service to others, isn't virtuous at all - it's self righteousness. We must pursue greatness with motive and means that come from God.
What do you think? Am I off the mark here? I still want to create pockets of greatness...I just want to do so in the right way.