A Better Sense of Great

I follow collegiate wrestling fairly closely. In particular, I enjoy watching Big
10 dual meets and tournaments. Just as the SEC is the pinnacle of college
football (though some may argue otherwise), the Big 10 is the pinnacle of college
wrestling (though some may argue otherwise). As far as consistent greatness is
concerned, Penn State currently stands at the top of Big 10 and national
wrestling (though some may argue otherwise). To wit, out of the last 10 team
national championships, Penn State has won eight of them, and finished second
in another. They are the cream of the crop in an incredibly competitive group.
Penn State is led by head coach Cael Sanderson. Sanderson wrestled at
Iowa State in the late 90s and early 2000s. He is rightfully regarded as the
greatest collegiate wrestler of all time. Why? Because he did something no one
else had ever done, and still has not done—he won every one of his matches.
Four years of intense competition at the highest collegiate level, and he went
159-0 with, naturally, four individual national championships. In addition, few of
his 159 opponents came close to beating him. By all measures, he earned the
title of “great” (and, for what it is worth, he was then and is now a humble,
grateful person).
What is “great?” Our world tends to define it by using statistics or financial
success or grading systems or any number of other empirical measures. We
have great authors and great leaders and great businesspeople and great
players and on and on and on. Yet what the world thinks is great is not
necessarily what is truly great. Jesus in Matthew 11:11 said, “Truly, I say to you,
among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the
Baptist.” That is quite an endorsement of greatness! But Jesus did not stop with
John the Baptist. He went on to say this, “Yet the one who is least in the kingdom
of heaven is greater than he.” That is also quite an endorsement.
So, what then is “great?”

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