Monday, November 05, 2007

The Source of Significance

Significance. A very important word in the English language, but not one that we spend a lot of time pondering.

I love this image of a person searching for significance. Keep this in your mind as you read this post.

Wikipedia defines significance as it relates to people as:
  • People who are the world's best at something significant.
  • People who have helped us understand or think about who we are.
  • People who have made a significant, lasting difference or impact - meaning that the world is a different place because of them.
  • People who have captured the public imagination over a significant period of time.
  • People who have created, invented, inspired or contributed something of long term significance.
  • People who have achieved something.
  • Those admired for rolling up their sleeves and doing something .
  • People who have achieved something, rather than drawn attention to themselves and maybe achieved some passing fame in the process.
Let's look at each of these. Think about where you are in each of them and who comes to mind as you read each one.

Being the best in the world at something takes an investment in time and sometimes in money. And once you've achieved that level of significance, it takes more time and hard work to maintain that level. Finding significance in something you have done is often fleeting.

Being the best at something significant, well that is a little more difficult. First you have to find someone to help you understand who you are and how what you are relates to others. Usually that would be someone who in and of themselves were significant, making the world a better or different place just because of who they are. It could be anyone, it doesn't have to be someone famous.

Mine was my mom. She was the best in the world at the most significant thing of all, unconditional love. She made me believe that I could be or do anything that I wanted, just because she loved and believed in me. She planted significance in me when she planted love and didn't attach it to performance or achievement.

In history, think about those that have made a lasting impression, capturing public imagination over a significant period of time. Often it is those that have created, invented, inspired or contributed to our world. Each of them are remembered for achieving something special and are often famous, such as those winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

If rolling up your sleeves and doing something were the only measure of significance, much of the world's unsung heroes would find themselves in the "significant camp". Often these are the ones that allow others to achieve something because of making it possible by something they have done (while not attracting attention to themselves). My mom again....

Lasting significance would appear to be the most elusive of the bunch.

As I was out for my walk this morning, I was listening to a song (I could sing of your love forever by John Tesch, from his album "A Deeper Faith") written about the most enduring and significant thing on our planet - love, as outlined in 1 Corinthians 13. Love you say? Yes love.

Creation is an act of love. God created the world itself and has spent the rest of time since creation trying to show Himself to us, to show us His love. He sent a piece of Himself, Jesus, who Himself made a lasting impression. He not only captured public imagination over a significant period of time, but we even mark time with his birth (BC) and his death (AD).

I have enjoyed a life of personal significance and yet, have had the privilege of seeing and knowing that everything that I do is not of my making. All of my talents are a gift from the creator of the universe Himself. And if He uses me to start something, He doesn't need me to finish it!

Most of the things that we do in life eventually fade from memory. In some cases, other people even take credit for what we ourselves have done. Finding significance in titles is fleeting, as jobs and companies can easily disappear. Thousands of people daily lose their jobs. Finding significance in a relationship can be equally disappointing. Divorce is rampant in our country. Even the various roles in our lives (mother, sister, brother, daughter, son, friend) that provide a source of significance can change overnight when loved ones are taken from us.

As you continue on your search for significance, I encourage you to not start with WHO you are, but determine WHOSE you are. Like the picture on the cover above, look up, lift your hands to the heavens.

Serving the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob provides not just significance, but eternal significance. Being a daughter of the King of Kings, who owns the cattle on 10,000 hills is just about as significant as it gets.

Who I am can change over time. What I do can fade away. But I am HIS forever and the beauty of that is that He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

My significance is sealed in Him.

Chicke Fitzgerald