The Uncommon Desire for Greatness

Everyone wants to be great, I’m sure. But the extent of this actually varies tremendously from person-to-person. When seen from a wider perspective, all of life seems meaningless. We will all die, and in a few hundred years’ time (with a few exceptions), be completely forgotten. There’s no escaping it. I was reading 1 Kings today (for a class, I admit), and was struck by the description of King Solomon’s greatness.

 20 The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They were very contented, with plenty to eat and drink. 21 [a]Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River[b] in the north to the land of the Philistines and the border of Egypt in the south. The conquered peoples of those lands sent tribute money to Solomon and continued to serve him throughout his lifetime.

22 The daily food requirements for Solomon’s palace were 150 bushels of choice flour and 300 bushels of meal[c]; 23 also 10 oxen from the fattening pens, 20 pasture-fed cattle, 100 sheep or goats, as well as deer, gazelles, roe deer, and choice poultry.[d]

24 Solomon’s dominion extended over all the kingdoms west of the Euphrates River, from Tiphsah to Gaza. And there was peace on all his borders. 25 During the lifetime of Solomon, all of Judah and Israel lived in peace and safety. And from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, each family had its own home and garden.[e]

26 Solomon had 4,000[f] stalls for his chariot horses, and he had 12,000 horses.[g]

27 The district governors faithfully provided food for King Solomon and his court; each made sure nothing was lacking during the month assigned to him. 28 They also brought the necessary barley and straw for the royal horses in the stables.

29 God gave Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore. 30 In fact, his wisdom exceeded that of all the wise men of the East and the wise men of Egypt. 31 He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite and the sons of Mahol—Heman, Calcol, and Darda. His fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. 32 He composed some 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs. 33 He could speak with authority about all kinds of plants, from the great cedar of Lebanon to the tiny hyssop that grows from cracks in a wall. He could also speak about animals, birds, small creatures, and fish. 34 And kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen to the wisdom of Solomon.

1 Kings 4:20-34

Solomon was undoubtedly astoundingly powerful during his time, but what does it amount to today? Sure, he must have some effect on history that lives on today– including my blog post about him. But there’s nothing in this post for him personally. What does it amount to in eternity? It all seems so insignificant. Part of the reason I’ve done stuff differently from other people is that I want to stand out in the crowd.

Anyone can be silly or stupid to stand out. There are thousands and thousands of students who do their homework, live life to the fullest, get accepted to Harvard or the top schools. I don’t want to be like them. That’s boring. There are many things lots of people are doing. There are hundreds of authors who have written bestsellers, hundreds of bands who have famous hits. Is that unique? Not at all.

What is special, then? I don’t claim to have it figured out, but one thing is that I try to stand out from others in a different way. There are many people I look up to, usually those who are smart or appear so. I like to go as far as I can with the stuff I love: computers and technology. That’s why I signed up to be Google Ambassador, and recently, Firefox Campus Rep. I may be the only one of my kind at USC, but there are probably others like me at other schools. So what can I do differently? Why is it better to be different, anyway?

This is also part of the reason I believe in Jesus. Without him, what else can explain the world? Even if we consider that he either doesn’t exist or isn’t who he said he was, that doesn’t make anything better.

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