Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Who Is the Greatest?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Who Is the Greatest?

Article excerpt

A Christian Science perspective: Will the drive to be the greatest get you where you want to be?

The world has many ways of keeping score. There's your rung on the corporate ladder, your bank balance, your neighborhood, your golf score, the number of friends you have on Facebook. Or perhaps your grade-point average, your age, or the labels on your clothes. All these may be believed to be important indicators, clues to your ranking at school or at work, in social life, or even within your own home.

Many people have concluded that there's only one place worth being: on top. The desire to be the best - have the most, outperform your competitors, and win, win, win - is a significant component in the motivational engine that drives the world, a modus operandi indicated in the Bible as "Who is the greatest?" (Matt. 18:1).

Of course there's nothing wrong with trying hard to succeed or even coming out on top. But perhaps it's worthwhile to consider whether an overriding ambition to be No. 1 will ultimately get you where you really want to be.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, gave thought to this question. In an article titled "Vainglory," she wrote, "Two personal queries give point to human action: Who shall be greatest? and, Who shall be best?" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883- 1896," p. 268). Mrs. Eddy saw the desire to be greatest as often being a motivating force in human interactions. But she made clear that human striving and ambition weren't necessarily the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Nor did they guarantee ultimate happiness and fulfillment, even though they sometimes seemed to offer those prizes. She continued, "Earthly glory is vain; but not vain enough to attempt pointing the way to heaven, the harmony of being."

So if the real goal is to obtain heaven, can the obsessive pursuit of earthly glory still be constructive and conducive to harmony?

In many areas of life, particularly business, groups of people are charged with deciding how best to move an activity forward. Each individual is necessary and important to the success of the endeavor; each has a niche, a role to play. …

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