Chad Costantino: In the presence of greatness

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 21, 2015

What does it mean to be in the presence of greatness? Who do you admire and would be honored to be in the presence of their greatness?

Qualities of greatness include humility, being focused, honoring your word, honoring authority, following protocol, striving for excellence in everything. Legacy is important to those who are great; integrity and honor are more important than money.

Persistent, they document with detailed expectations; courageous, they willingly confront their adversaries. The great are passionate, generous, face their fears, pursue wisdom, value relationships, base their decisions on Godly counsel, have solid faith and values.

May we all strive for the biblical meaning of greatness. “The greatest among you are those who serve.  Whoever exalts themselves will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”  (Matthew 23:11-12)

As you look through history, we imagine individuals like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther, Mother Teresa, many others — and absolutely my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But what about today? Who do you know today who fits the list?
Recently I had the honor, privilege and joy of meeting a man I have heard amazing stories about, a man whose impact on the community is everywhere you look.

Although he does not ask for credit, and he gives glory to the Lord, one cannot help but realize that you are in the in the presence of greatness with Mr. Ralph Ketner. The creative and bold marketing choices he made as a co-founder of Food Lion have forever changed the supermarket industry. The passion, obsession and step of faith he took with his dreams made many millionaires in Rowan County.

The mentorship he provides at Catawba College, the wisdom he gives on the board of multiple nonprofit organizations, his faithfulness to his church are strong even at the age of 95. Happy 95th birthday, Mr. Ketner!

When I think of Mr. Ketner, I imagine the little boy whose mother moved to Heaven when he was 5 years old, and whose dad moved to Heaven when he was 11. As a boy, he worked hard delivering newspapers, working in his dad’s store and later working for his brother.

I also picture the boy who gave Jesus the little food he had of two fish and five small barley loaves. As you read in John 6:1-14, Jesus multiplies that little and made a lot to bless all the people.

Mr. Ketner reminds me of that little boy, taking the little resources he had, along with the resources of others here in Salisbury many years ago, and making a global difference.  The Lord has used him to feed the multitudes.
So why was I meeting with Mr. Ralph Ketner? I was humbly seeking his wisdom, mentoring, favor and blessing over my dreams. I asked my mother to join me for this appointment.  We were both honored and amazed by Mr. Ketner.

Remember that time is the currency on earth. It is priceless. You trade it to make money to buy things. Daily you decide how to spend the currency of your time. Life is short, so enjoy your family and friends. Passionately pursue your legacy.

When I give motivational speeches at high schools, I often use a coffin as a prop, for a reminder that all we have is the dash between the date we were born and date we die to fulfill our legacy on the planet.
As a counselor, I weekly help families through grief counseling, substance abuse counseling, mental illness, redemption plans for youth with legal problems, and family and social issues. As a faith based producer of films, documentaries, and books, I passionately pursue making a difference in this world, my faith, and family.

We all need mentors, men and women of greatness to inspire us, fan the flame within us, to help confront our fears, correct our chaos, help order our steps and inspire us to make progress. Our memories are pictures of the past. Our dreams are pictures of the future.

What we hear affects how we feel. What we see affects what we believe.  The most dangerous person in your life is the person who sows into your doubts and fears. The most important person in your life is the one that sows into your faith.

Thank you, Mr. Ralph Ketner, for sowing into our faith.  Happy 95th Birthday Mr. Ralph Ketner and thank you for your example and legacy.

By: Dr. Chad Costantino