“No pain, no gain.”I first heard this phrase 40 years ago from a U.S. Marine gunnery sergeant. At that time, I was at the Navy Chaplain School in Newport, RI. Gunny Crank was leading us through our morning PT exercises, and he noticed some of the chaplains were having difficulties, especially in the running. He was telling us that if we wanted to get in shape, there was going to be some pain in the process.
It’s the same in spiritual growth. Our natural inclination to be admired and valued is to do better than others so as to receive recognition and honor. So we strive to outdo others. That might be the way of the world, but it’s not the way of Jesus. True greatness for Jesus is service, and that’s painful because it hurts our pride for we want to be served. However, Jesus says, “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant.” (Matt 20:26) Several popes have been given the title “Great” like “Leo the Great” and “Gregory the Great,” but their favorite title is “Servant of the Servants of God.” Now none of us is likely to be called “great” by those who survive us, but if we make it to heaven by serving God and neighbor, we will be great.