Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu went into the ministry at a young age, and as she finished her training, she decided that her heart was set on building an orphanage. So she approached her superiors and told them that she had three pennies and a dream to build an orphanage.
Her superiors told her that she couldn't build an orphanage with just three pennies. In fact, they said, you can't do anything with three pennies. Agnes smiled, and said, "You are right, but with God and three pennies I can do anything". Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu went on to be one of the greatest beacons of love and service that the world has ever known. We know her today as Mother Theresa.
Whenever I hear stories about people who have come from nothing to achieve greatness, I often explain it away, or justify their success.
"Yeah, but she was blessed by God" , "Yeah, but she was Mother Teresa", "Yeah, but she had THREE pennies" (just kidding)
But that's how it feels sometimes. I will pick apart everything and downplay their story because I think they have some supernatural gift that has led them to their greatness, as if they have been chosen to be successful.
I have this mentor that says:
"Greatness is not for the chosen few, it is for the few who choose"
I think that's pretty neat, and I've also come to believe that it's pretty true.
The people who are great, or who are doing great things, are not there because they have been selected. They are there because they have been willing to make simple decisions (thought not always easy) over and over again that many people aren't willing to make.
(Just to be clear, there isn't really a "there" to get to. It's all a moving target)
Mother Teresa wasn't just great, because she was Mother Teresa. She didn't start as Mother Teresa. In fact, she started with just three pennies and a passion to serve. And she made decisions, daily, that aligned with her pursuit and helped grow the gifts inside of her. One decision built on another, which led to another, which built on another, which led Agnes from "God and three pennies" to becoming Mother Teresa.
Many times, it seems like we take a look at our three pennies, and decide that it's not enough. That we can't do anything significant with what we have. Or, we listen to other people pick apart our blessings, and tell us what we can and can't do with what we have.
Greatness doesn't mean we have to be famous, or remembered by the history books, or play in the NBA. It could mean that we are the best mom or dad we can be, or that we are exceptional in our chosen field, or that we are working to fully maximize our gifts and talents. Maybe it means that we are choosing to pursue growth, and challenges, and we are willing to work to become our best.
For all of us, there are gifts to be nurtured, growth to pursue, and lions to chase. There are reasons, from time to time, why we may not do those things, why we may not choose. But mostly, I think they are excuses. Maybe we are afraid, maybe we are doubtful, maybe we are uncertain. Regardless of those obstacles, I think the truth is emerging for me, that we do have a choice, if we are willing to make it.