Your potential for greatness is probably far beyond what you realize. But it will cost you to get there. To get to greatness, we humans have to bleed.
Why? For one thing, greatness is revealed in the way we love. And true love costs. Love always bleeds. It always means the death of something. To love others, you must love yourself enough to die and bear pain.
To grow, we need discomfort. It creates a gap where growth can occur.
Scott Peck said something I resonate with: “The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” (The Road Less Traveled)
Here are four principles that explain why this is true.
1. You need pain to grow.
Take away all pain and you stop growing. Leprosy is a disease that takes away pain. As nerve endings cease functioning, so too does life.
I’ve watched this dynamic in people as they get older. We are comfort-seekers. We can’t help ourselves – we spend our time and money on the things that diminish pain, not seeing that in order to grow, we need pain.
Why is this? Paul explained the dynamic in one of his letters: “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.” 2 Cor. 1:8-9
Pain pushes us to rely on God. We reach the end of ourselves and then he has room to show up.
2. Don’t confuse competency with greatness.
You may be good. You may be competent. But your greatness will not be revealed there. Being good at something can be a curse. If you’re good at what you do, that will lead to coasting. Coasting will lead to hubris. And hubris/pride goes before a fall. So we need trials to reveal greatness.
3. Scars are evidence of past pain.
We need a few scars to show that we’re still growing.
Check yourself for scars, both emotional and physical. Do you have them? This is evidence that God has been preparing you for growth and greatness.
Scars often tell stories of how our pain was redeemed.
4. Don’t confuse pain with rejection.
So many people do this. They think God is turning his back on them because they are in pain. But Proverbs tells us that God disciplines/hurts those he loves. (Prov. 3:12)
Understanding this helps us reconcile the fact that God is good with the seemingly contradictory fact that the world is a messed up place. The Bible says all things work together for good for those in a love relationship with God. (Rom. 8:28)
Are you in pain today? Recognize that if so, God may be putting you through a process that will lead to your greatness.