Saturday, February 20, 2016

Being Significant

Growing up, like many people, I wanted to be someone important. Frankly, at the time, I did not know what that truly meant, but being well-known, such as a star baseball player, would have satisfied this goal. Or at least I thought it would have.

But the reality is that being important is very subjective, and is usually very short-term. Consider your best friend in second grade. That person was extremely important to you. Your world revolved around that person and maybe a few others. For most of us, that person, or small band of friends is long since forgotten. We have lost touch with them, and lost track of them. Some reading this may even struggle to remember the names, and that is a part of the point. This example is not to belittle the importance of this person, but to show the relativity of the idea of importance itself. Over time, new friends and other people have become important for a season in your life, but then fade as well. For instance, your first boss was important. But, unless you still have the same boss, or are related to that first boss, your current boss is more important than your first one.

But significance is different. I suppose that is what I meant when I was young. I wanted to be someone of significance. Again, to me, at the time, that probably meant some young boy would emulate me while playing baseball and have my statistics memorized. But that isn't what significance is either. And while significance also tends to waver throughout our lives, significance can be long-lasting. Again, let me provide a brief example.

Your teachers in school were important. They provided feedback as to your learning. This feedback, largely in the form of a grade was important to allow you to participate in extracurricular activities, perhaps to get an academic scholarship, or just to stay out of trouble with someone who cared. But as important as the professional teacher was, someone in your life was significant because they taught you something that has stayed with you. Perhaps this was a teacher, but the individual(s) could have been a friend, a grandparent, an uncle or aunt or parent, etc. In some special way you remember this person for whatever may have been taught - either good or bad.

This past Sunday, my sermon* related the need for us to consider our purpose significant because our Lord was significant and He is the One who has called us to fulfill our purpose. Just like the people we remember from our past, others remember us because of the impact we have had upon them. But in an age of being so task-oriented, we can lose sight of what is important (an empty inbox, a tv show, etc.). And in reality, much of what we consider important is quite repetitive (showing up for work, taking out the trash, eating, etc). It isn't that these things aren't important because we must be paid, we don't want the house to stink, and we have to eat). But they are not significant.

The truth is if you do something important, it may not be significant. However, if you do something significant, it will always be important. The challenge before us then, is to find ways each day to do something significant for God. It isn't that we need to try harder, it is that we need to train our minds differently. Trying harder is usually all about us, but to be significant is to be about God and His work. 

I guess after all these years my hope to be important has faded. However, I do desire to be significant - significant for God and His kingdom. So, I guess for me to be significant, it isn't about me at all. Of course, I need to do my part, but if God has called me to it, then He should get the glory for it! As John the baptizer said, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3.30).

That's my desire. What about you? Will you choose to be significant today?

* The blog post on the church's page is an edited transcript of the sermon. To listen to the actual sermon, click here.

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