Monotony, indifference, and lack of purpose confront each person with the danger of wasting his or her life. Steven Furtick’s Greater deftly uses the Bible’s book of Kings miracle making prophet Elisha, the Bible’s simple lessons, and years of practical experience to guide a person out from the comfort of his or her life towards what God has planned. The message is about not settling for a good enough life or a life of greatness. A Greater life is experiencing a life beyond human capabilities.
Greater is not the tired and typical try harder or dream great dreams message. Instead, Elisha and Furtick guide a reader to shift their life from despair, mediocrity, or greatness to hope, excellence, and Greater. Look for Biblical concepts of paying attention, taking life day-by-day, not worrying about the details, having faith, dreaming big, yet starting mustard seed like small, keeping it simple, staying inside the box instead of outside, and grunt work wax-on, wax-off practice. Greater takes the reader on a journey to answer Christianity’s major questions, such as, why bad things happen to God’s people, the purpose of suffering, and unanswered prayers. Issues arise such as pride, how Jesus (not about Him) or people do not matter (not about the reader), and keeping a daily Christian edge. Greater’s answers include protecting one’s environment, guarding against enemies, knowing the power one possesses, how one’s Father sees him or herself, sample prayers to deliver the power, and ends with an example of a Christian legacy.
In 2007 I had it “all” because the business I had started was working as planned and produced money to buy what I wanted and when I wanted it, and to pay employees who did most of the work. I did not know I had stepped off the path to Greater and settled for good enough and greatness.
I recall standing in front of our second million-dollar home saying, “God, this house is the last of our spending spree until we start giving more and we pay off our debts.” God only shook his head in sadness as He removed His protective hand and allowed me to circle down into a financial vortex of death caused by stupidity, greed, and indifference. It was only after I had surrendered my life to Christ and started reading the Bible that I said, “What good was it for me to earn what I thought was the world, yet in the end lose my soul?”
Furtick’s book presents the problem I faced as settling for a spiritual “good enough” life. Good enough means a life spent in survival, and controlled by a complacent spiritual life. I was pursuing greatness, defined as pursuit of self-gratification, and not pursuing a Greater life. A life of Greater is the knowledge God has planned greatness in my life beyond my human reach or understanding. It is only when I abandon my desires and plans that He can use me for the Greater dream (Mt. 19:21, New International Version).
What small next steps do I take to go from where I am today to where He is calling me? I think I am where He wants me, yet Greater clarified twenty action steps I can take to more fully live. I understand His call on me as knowing Christ and explaining Christ to others with the focus first on leading my wife and children (Eph. 5:25-33 & Deut. 6:6-9). If it is His will, the call could expand to include finishing seminary and working in formal ministry. Twenty action steps could seem daunting, yet the actions are spiritual disciplines developed over time from walking with the Lord.
Pay attention. God is working in my life each day. By taking time throughout the day to slow down life, take on less responsibilities, and focus on more important responsibilities, I find God’s presence and word guiding my steps (Pr. 4:20, Jer. 10:23, pr. 16:9 & Heb. 2:1).
Take life day-by-day and have peace about the details. Psalm 139:13-16 says God knows every detail about me and the circumstances of my life. This does not mean God shows me all the details, so I will develop a habit of less planning, and action for today from what paying attention shows (Mt. 6:24-34).
Sacrifice. I accept that I will not live the same life as I have in the past and will need to give up things that leave me with a feeling of lost (Jn. 15:13, Phil. 2:3-4, Jn. 12:25, & Rm. 12:1-2).
Have faith. I realize God has given me awesome gifts and shaped the circumstances of my life to take the talent He gave me into strengths for His Kingdom. This means I need to dream bigger, yet depend on the Lord instead of thinking I can carry out anything on my own (Jn. 5:30, Jer. 10:23, Phil. 2:13, & Rm. 8:28).
Dream big, yet start mustard seed like small. It is good to have big dreams because God is our King and He is in the business of making huge things happen (Ex. 14 & Mt. 27:50-53). The start of accomplishing great dreams begins with breaking dreams into small next steps (Jm. 2:26, & 2 Kg. 3:16, King James Version).
Keep it simple. In God’s Kingdom, taking a walk with my six-year-old son is as powerful as Dave Ramsey speaking to ten thousand people on how to handle money God’s way.
Stay inside the box instead of outside. God designed me for an exact purpose and coveting or thinking I want to do someone else’s calling is not part of His design (Ex. 20:17, Jms. 4:13, & 1 Tim. 6:10).
Grunt work wax-on, wax-off practice. Jesus came and washed the disciples feet and died for my sins. Cleaning toilets, teaching Sunday school, and running kickball for Vacation Bible School is what He wants today and this prepares me for His future tasks in ways I cannot see, nor imagine (Col. 3:23-24).
Why bad things happen to God’s people. Getting to His calling is rarely simple, easy, or pain-free (Deut. 31:6 & Ps. 34:17-20).
The purpose of suffering. See above and James 1:2-18.
Unanswered prayers. The Lord uses His timing to answer pray so always pray (Gn. 16:6, Rm. 8:28).
Pride. Radical and immediate obedience, find ways to serve others, and defer slights or offenses quickly (Jms. 4:6).
Jesus (not about Him) or I do not matter (not about me). When my wife does not do what I want or act in the way I think she should, I need to remember that Jesus came to die, which He did not want to do, yet He knew it was not about Him (Phil. 2:6-7, Mt. 20:28, & Lk. 12:37).
Keep a daily Christian edge: Each day I need to decide to serve the Lord and the things He calls me to take care of with intentionality (2 Kg. 6:1-7).
Protect my environment. Friends are a powerful influence (Phil. 2:14, Pr.12:26, 1 Kg. 11:4, 1 Cor. 15:33, & Mk. 5:40).
Guard against enemies. Understand that there are enemies (2 Kg. 6:10, 15-16).
Know the power I have. Walk in the knowledge of whose power I have (Eph. 1:18-21, & Is. 41:10).
How my Father sees me. Remember God is with me, for me, and taking me somewhere awesome because He loves me despite all my flaws and sins (Jn. 3:16).
Sample prayers to deliver the power. Pray in all things instead of trying to use my human understanding to fix things or improve my life (Jer. 33:3).
Powerful Christian legacy. Allow the Lord to work in my life to carry out the above and leave a legacy as did Elisha (2 Kg. 13:20-21).
Action steps. Furtick (2012) writes that the Greater life starts in the here and now. God gives dreams and imagination because He wants personal growth and effort from His followers (1 Pt. 3:15, 2 Pt. 1:3-11, Mt. 5:16, & Ps. 1:1-3). At the same time, Jesus says, “Come to [Him] …” (Mt. 11:28). What this means in practical actions steps in my life:
1. Have no personal focused plans.
2. Wake up and see what God is telling me through prayer, quiet time, meditation, and moment-by-moment connection and conversation with Him.
3. Do what He says to do.
4. See what He is trying to teach or develop in me through the circumstances He is orchestrating throughout each day.
Some of the practical action steps He is showing me through the reading of Greater is that the ministry He has given me is in front of me. Instead of searching for something “lighting bolt” large to do such as pastor a church, plant a ministry, or speak to thousands of people, my time, energy, and talents need to first get poured into my one-on-one relationship with Christ. This always reveals the here and now Furtick writes of in Greater. I have a Proverb 31:10-29 wife who needs time, attention, and focus. Robin and I have five children, and I can see each day that the Lord places enough people with needs in my path. It is not thousands of people on a stage in need of ministry, yet ministry consists of interactions starting with my family to the couple who need a marriage coach. Paying attention to these small next steps or moments is the call on my life. It is not the life I signed up for, nor the life I had initially dreamed of, yet it is the Greater life. I thank the Lord for His grace, mercy, and power and pray for His continued revelation.
Furtick, S. (2012). Greater: Dream bigger. Start smaller. Ignite God’s vision for our life. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books.