I was twenty-one years old and still living at home when my mom had hip surgery. Grandma came to stay and help out for a week or so. Of course my dad, my sisters, and me were perfectly capable of taking care of Mom. But serving her family was what Grandma did. So she came and cooked us meals and chatted with Mom and folded the laundry.
After about four or five days I began to feel a little impatient with Grandma.
You see, I was one of those idealistic, sometimes arrogant, often annoying, young women who had all kinds of dreams and ambitions to do great things for God but had no clue about what that actually meant. I was headed for the mission field (because missionary life is exciting, right?). I was going to teach women. I was going to write books. I was going to change the world for God.
I loved my grandma. She was sweet and kind. But she didn’t seem to have a vision beyond the boundaries God had set for her. She certainly didn’t “dream big.”
Grandma was, in my not-so-humble opinion, overly attentive to the cost per pound of pot roast or how much laundry detergent we had left. She got excited by the blue jay in the backyard. She clucked and fussed when one of her grandchildren got a slight temperature.
And this annoyed me. I didn’t have time to enter into these simple joys or concerns. I had bigger, deeper, things to think about. I quickly grew tired of her conversation, uninterested in her world. It seemed small to me.
A decade and a half later, I understand that it was my world that was small, my ambitions that were misguided.
Today I see that my Grandma’s delight in God’s creation, her diligent seeking of God through His Word and prayer, her faithful service to the Savior in her allotted sphere of influence—these things are the very definition of greatness. As Zach Eswine writes, “Every moment of obscure service makes the hall of fame in heaven.” It was Jesus, himself, who set the standard: “The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Mt. 23:11).
And being a servant often means paying attention to the price of pot roast.
So while I dreamed my dreams of doing “great” things for God, I was, in fact, in the presence of true greatness. I know that now. And while I still long, more than ever, to do great things for him, I define “great” differently. I define it like Grandma.