Stop Waiting for Permission
Why You Should Want Greatness
There is a place where everything that makes you who you are is welcomed and celebrated, where your gifts, passion, and purpose collide to leave a mark beyond your wildest imagining. In this place, you experience fulfillment by using your unique personal genius—yes, it exists!—to bless your family, friends, community, and world. I call this place greatness.
How do you find that place? When can you step into that season? Do you sit back and wait for an opportunity to fall into your lap? Or do you start knocking on (or kicking in) doors?
When it comes to greatness, some people are full of potential but short on drive. Others are driven but lack direction. Still others have direction but also have debilitating fear and doubt. Many people I meet have potential, drive, and
direction, but for some mysterious reason, they’re still waiting around for greatness to just kind of . . . happen. Maybe they feel they don’t deserve it. Maybe they think there isn’t room for them at the table.
Whichever scenario is true for you—whatever is holding you back from living fully in the greatness God has placed inside you—I want you to know this today: When it comes to greatness, you don’t have to wait for permission.
But you do have to take action. You can’t just stand in line and wait for it to happen. Take Action
Picture this: You get all dressed up for a night on the town. You’ve been waiting for this moment for what feels like forever. Since this restaurant opened, everybody who’s anybody has been talking about the unforgettable cuisine and sumptuous, senses-inspiring atmosphere. You’re expecting the dining experience of a lifetime.
You stroll up to the host’s podium with your significant other and request a table for two, preferably by the window so that you can enjoy the view—and maybe enjoy being seen enjoying the view by people walking by.
“Name, please?” the host says in a cold tone that makes the please
disappear into thin air.
With a sinking feeling, you tell her. She scrolls through the list on her tablet and doesn’t find your name. She looks up and stretches her mouth in what must be meant as a smile. “Unfortunately, it appears you don’t have a reservation with us tonight. You are free to wait here by the door on the off chance someone else cancels, but our tables are fully booked for the evening.”
Your partner shoots you the “you had one job” look (you know the one), so you swallow what’s left of your pride to see whether you can negotiate with the frosty host—but before you can choke out a word, another couple glides through the door.
“Name, please?” the host intones.
“Smith, table for two at seven-thirty.”
“Right this way, Mr. Smith. We have a table waiting for you by the window.”
Your excitement deflates like one of those shiny foil balloons after the party is over, slowly sinking to the floor. For the next ninety minutes, you and your date watch with barely concealed envy (and growing hunger) as party after party approaches the podium, gives their name, and are shown immediately to a table set aside for them.
A few other hopeful diners, like you, request a table without a reservation. They are given the same options: Leave, or wait by the door and cross their fingers for a last-minute cancelation. One or two groups join you in the tiny waiting area squeezed between the wall and an exotic potted plant, but most head back into the night, opting for a less exclusive dining experience.
Finally you’ve had enough.
At the podium once again, you inform the host that you’re leaving.
“While you’re here,” she offers, “would you like to go ahead and make a reservation? We’re currently booking six to eight weeks out.”
“Yes, I would. I’d like to make a reservation to celebrate this beautiful lady’s birthday,” you say, smiling at your date. “Please save us your finest table for two at seven o’clock on the second Saturday of March. We’ll see you then.”
As you’re putting on your coat in preparation to leave, you hear another customer without reservations arguing with the host. “We’ll come back tomorrow night, when things have slowed down a bit.”
She looks at him like he has two heads. “Um . . . we are definitely going to be busy tomorrow and for many evenings after that. Literally every table is booked for weeks. I strongly recommend a reservation.”
“I’ll take my chances,” he says. “At some point someone will cancel. We’ll just keep coming back and hope for the best.”
“That is a terrible idea,” his date says. “I don’t want to spend every night for the foreseeable future standing by a plant, wishing for a steak. These shoes are killing me.”
You smile at your partner as you walk out the door into the cool night, thankful you’re no longer leaving your plans up to chance. Your Place of Greatness
So what does this allegory have to do with greatness? When it comes to greatness, too many people are just waiting to get lucky.
They stand around day after day in the proverbial waiting room in the hope that someone else will fail to show up and forfeit their position inside.
Why would you do that when you can reserve your own place of greatness? There will
be a seat at the table with your name on it, if you only call ahead and give your name. This book will show you how to prepare your life for the greatness God has planned for you. There will be a seat at the table with your name on it, if you only call ahead and give your name.
You may have already accomplished some things other people consider great. They’re impressed. Your influence is wide, your responsibilities are significant, and your list of accolades is long—but you still feel unfulfilled. You find yourself standing around in uncomfortable shoes, wondering, Is this it? Is this all there is?
This book will help you orient your drive and gifts toward the deeper purposes of God, where true greatness awaits. And it’s a biblical message, complete with a few laughs along the way.
As a pastor, I spend a lot of time reading the Bible, and I love it. Like, love
love it. Not only because Scripture holds life, truth, and keys to unlock God’s miracles in my own life—though that’s the main reason—but also because there is comedy gold in its pages. One such comically awkward account is found in Matthew 20, where two of Jesus’s disciples tried to make their reservations for greatness.
The first mistake these brothers made was simply one of poor timing. James and John wanted to be the second and third most powerful people in God’s coming kingdom, seated to the right and left of Jesus’s throne. But they asked for places of greatness right after their Lord explained the excruciating level of pain He would have to endure to accomplish His own great purpose:
The Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. (verses 18–19)
James and John’s response to Jesus’s shocking announcement was, essentially, “Cool, okay, neat, but we’d like to be famous.”
That’s just awkward. Hilariously awkward. Read the room, guys.
But the second of James and John’s mistakes was even cringier: They sent their mom
to ask for greatness on their behalf.
(I’m confident I don’t need to spend time explaining why, but if you’re an adult and need your mother to maximize your God-given potential, greatness doesn’t lie in your immediate future.)
Jesus was planning to leave everything He built to these men, and they didn’t even have enough confidence to ask for themselves. This is what I suspect: James and John sent their mom because they were ashamed of their ambition, ashamed that they even desired greatness.
They’re not alone in wrestling with shame. Many Jesus followers I know wonder, Am I even allowed to want greatness? Isn’t it all up to God anyway and up to me just to accept what He gives and be grateful?
If that line of inner conflict sounds familiar, I have good news for you: Jesus didn’t get angry at James and John for desiring to be great.
The not-so-good news is, the other disciples did get angry. They were furious
that James and John would make such a shameless, self-centered request. How dare they?