From an early age, the need to be “great” was often drilled into me from the get-go. I was often told that I had to be greater than the generation before me, I had to be great at academics at school, and eventually, to be great at my profession, whatever that was. However, how I could become great was never explained to me, and this caused a tension in what I perceived as greatness, and my ability to understand what it meant to be great.
Challenges and changes
One of the recent conversations I had with a friend of mine was about this very topic, and for those who hear his story, it truly resembles something that I consider to be reflective of what it means to pursue greatness. My friend, Rajeev, or “G-Vo”, as his stage name suggests, was actually born in Sri Lanka and eventually moved to the States after the civil war in his home country forced him and his family out as refugees. Coming from a family where his mother was a Christian and his father was Hindu, Rajeev continued to question his faith, especially after his mother eventually passed away from cancer when he was nine years old.
I vividly recall the moment when I began to reflect on my faith in a deeper way, especially when I was a kid in primary school wanting to share with others. I had just started a Bible study group in the library and had begun inviting my friends to come along. However, being a Christian in school wasn’t easy, and I began to question if my motives were authentic, or if I wanted to change others before I was open to change myself. It’s a question I still ask myself to this day.
For Rajeev, the question of faith began to turn his desperation for people to know the message of Jesus into a pursuit of his calling as an artist. After going to university on a scholarship and eventually entering the corporate working world after graduating, he yearned for an outlet to express his faith using a more creative and authentic approach. He finally started making music, and realised that God was calling him, and, in his words, He felt the Lord say, “I want you to do music, that’s what I created you for.”
I’ve always contemplated the connection between what many describe as a calling and what others see as a profession. The difference between the two, I believe, is perspective. The latter is what many feel they should do, depending on their skills, interests and experiences; but the former is often what we are meant to pursue, especially as a desire or a passion that drives us to fulfill our purpose.
My friend Rajeev eventually went onto share in our conversation that he began to focus on his calling to be an artist, and started to perform at Christian conferences and venues, such as Urbana, eventually selling out Los Angeles’ famous House of Blues, and is currently working on a recent opportunity for a musical project at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in California.
Connecting passion to purpose
Part of his passion has also led him to write a book entitled, “The New Great”, which deconstructs the definition of greatness, and explores the wholistic meaning of what it means to be great at what we are meant to do.
Rajeev shares that despite releasing six albums and currently working at a church, as a married man, he has realised the importance of family, and hopes to continue to inspire people, not only through music, but in inviting people to become part of the family of God. It is in this way that we are able to influence others and pursue greatness in our own daily lives.
As it says in Scripture, “...instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew chapter 20 verses 26-28). In other words, if we are meant to be great, we must first learn to start small, and in so doing, learn the way to pursue greatness in the way we choose to serve others.
Learning to redefine greatness is the key to leading a life that is truly great.
Joseph Kolapudi's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/joseph-kolapudi.html