Mother Teresa Was Right

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March 24, 2015 by Austin McNair

Mother Teresa by Maqbool Fida HusainFor over 10 years, I have read the same Mother Theresa quote as I have urinated.

“We can do no great things, but only small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa

The quote hangs neatly framed next to the sink in my parents first floor bathroom. When I was a child growing into a young man, the quote always perplexed me. I didn’t believe her. What did she mean that we couldn’t do great things? Hadn’t she heard about the cliche narratives influencing my imagination?

I was special and would do great things.

Spiderman was doing great things.

Bruce Willis did a great thing at the end of Armageddon (Spoiler Alert: He saves humanity by blowing up with an asteroid).

And then I started going to Christian conferences where I was told that God wanted to do great things through me.

I was sold on great things – The allure of making a well-known and meaningful impact to change the world.

But then there was Mother Teresa in the bathroom. Speaking to me from the Calcutta slums. “There are no great things” she says. “There are only the muddy and mundane things done with gritty love” (paraphrase).

Let that form your imagination for a minute. What if our God-given destiny isn’t comprised of some idealistic great thing that is yet to come? But rather, what if it’s about our small loving actions being made meaningful in the hands of a graceful God?

The future great things don’t exist. Yet, the present is here, and it is rich with opportunity to do small things with great love.

Small things for our family.

Small things for our coworkers.

Small things for our neighbors.

Small things for our enemies.

Mother Teresa was right. The world could use some more small things with great love. I believe it is our missional destiny to wade into the pain and boredom of ordinary life and shine the light of great love. Because in the end, this great love of God transforms, recreates, and brings new life. Heaven and Earth intersecting. May that be our great destiny.

(Photo: Mother Teresa by Maqbool Fida Husain)


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