Dr. Tom Malone once stated, “No one really knows who the great preachers are. They may not be the pastors of big city churches and they may not even be well known but no one really knows for sure except God alone. A great preacher may live and serve at a country crossroad where he has been a faithful preacher who has never missed the mark.” When we get to heaven there will be some surprises as to who receive the greatest rewards. There will be some that went through life unnoticed, serving on a mission field or in some obscure place but they served faithfully and will be rewarded openly. The truly great preachers do not even recognize or acknowledge their own greatness.
Jesus made it clear that he that is least among you will be the greatest. “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” — Luke 14:11. “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”–Matthew 23:11-12. Humility is an important virtue to greatness while pride is a sign of self-sufficiency. The Bible states that the first shall be last and the last first. The way up is down and other seeming paradoxes explain the true virtues of the greatest believers.
Another element of rewards is related to persecution. The greatest testimonies I have heard over the years are always related to those who have overcome adversity or paid a great price and suffered for the name of Christ. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”– Matthew 5:11-12
Great faith is another characteristic of greatness. A woman of Canaan came to Jesus seeking help for her demon possessed daughter and Jesus said of her, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” The centurian’s servant was healed by Jesus and the Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” — Matthew 8:10.
The example of John the Baptist reveals the qualities of greatness. He was filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb. “He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.”– Matthew 8:10.
Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” — Matthew 11:11. John the Baptist faced martyrdom but before he did he preached repentance and prepared the way for the Lord. After Jesus began His ministry John said, “He must increase but I must decrease.”
I have stated many times, “The measure of a man’s success is determined by the extent of God’s control in his life.” Success is not always measured by the size of the congregation or the popularity of the preacher.
“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” — Philippians 2:3
Only God knows the truly great men. As a church planter your goal should be to glorify God, be filled with the Spirit and be humble as you seek to elevate others. Don’t compare yourself to others who seem to be successful. Just be faithful!