084 – Significance, Is It Worth It and Does It Matter?

significance

Significance is importance, we want to be important. Significance is being of consequence, mattering. Our existence and our presence being of consequence, mattering, making a difference. When we say we want to live a significant life, what we usually mean is we want our life to matter, we want the fact that we were here to change something, to be transformational in some way. We want our lives to have worth.

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Significance, Is it Worth it and Does it Matter?

I want to make a difference. No matter what I do, I want to know that my leadership, ministry, creativity, and most of all, my life matters. Transformation is important to me. I want to be in a state of transformation, ever changing for the better, ever growing, learning, and stretching toward good and important things. I want to encourage transformation in others. I do not want to be a transactional leader, I want to be a transformational leader. 

Significance is importance, we want to be important. Significance is being of consequence, mattering. Are existence and our presence being of consequence, mattering, making a difference. When we say we want to live a significant life, what we usually mean is we want our life to matter, we want the fact that we were here to change something, to be transformational in some way. We want our lives to have worth.

Is it Worth it?

I stepped down from an executive position that had been developing over a couple of decades. It was my life. I was invested in it. We followed the call into the unknown. We’d been encouraged in our trust, our faith, and we had grown to a place of having the courage to live life differently and to open ourselves up to the great adventure of pursuing God’s path. This preys upon my mind sometimes. 

I want it to be worth it. 

I don’t want to spend my life in lesser pursuits because of this bold step forward. I want my life to be spent on greater things. I want more significance, not less. 

A path is emerging. Our life framework is, “Get in the Presence of God, a passion will arise, a path will emerge, and a practice will result.” The path is emerging from a passion, which resulted from listening to the heartbeat of God. I can only hope the path is significant. I hope it is significant. 

I want it to be worth it. 

Living through the deep pain that comes from a deep grief, I wanted my loss, my suffering to be worth it. I’ve often said, “This cost too much to waste.” I want something good to come from it. 

I want it to be worth it. 

We really are going to tell the world, or at least those who have any interest, about our next steps on our great adventure. Right now, we are testing the waters, we are talking to people, we are exploring, we are listening, we are planning, we are watching paths emerge. One of the biggest questions I (more me than Donna) have been struggling with is, will it be significant enough. 

You see, I don’t want this bold, to me, cataclysmic step to be wasted. I want it to be worth it. I want what I invest the rest of my life, or at least the next season, to be worth it. 

I don’t need it to be easy, or fun, or even to feel like an adventure, even though it will be… I need it to be worth it. I let go of security, safety, position, influence, and a lot of other things to gain a lot of things I felt to be more important. I need it to be worth it. 

What is Significance?

Our significance is in Christ. We matter because we matter to him. We are of value because he values us. 

I’ve written a lot about finding our significance in God’s agenda for our lives. I’ve talked a lot about success simply being the doing of what God has asked of us, to the best of our ability. Significance is a bit like success in that it is defined by obedience, trust, and doing what we are supposed to do. 

Everyone wants their lives to matter, we want our investments in others to matter, we want our actions to be transformational for others, and for ourselves. 

A few years ago, at a very appropriate time in my life, I read Victor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl, a holocaust survivor, connects suffering to the meaning of  (significance) in a unique way. He helped me accept the pain of my circumstance, him being one who had earned much credibility on the topic, as a part of the bigger and important picture of significance. 

Here’s a relevant quote from Frankl’s book: 

“Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”

How Do We Live Significant Lives?

Perhaps significance is not a thing to be pursued, perhaps, obedience and pursuing things of great worth, including giving ourselves in the service to others, leads us to significance. If I sit around trying to come up with ways to be significant, I will probably miss the mark. 

I’ve often seen it in myself, and in the up and coming hopefuls, we want to be embraced as significant because of what we are doing, or what we are going to do, but significance isn’t something we decide to have, it is something we gain through our investments. Significance is not something we decide, it is something that happens, it is something that we become because of the life we have lived and are living. 

According to Frankl, success is “the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself….” I believe significance is the same. 

Significance-is-not-something-I-pursue. That simple 6 word sentence causes me great angst. I am not sure it is true. I am not sure I want it to be true. I want to chase significance, I want to pursue successful living and everything I define that to be. I want to plan for significance, I want to plot it out. 

To think of significance in a different way, what if it is something I see when I look back, rather than something I see looking ahead? What if significance ensues from consistently doing the right things, having the right motivations, letting go of the things that are antithesis to who we are and who Christ is leading and shaping us to be. 

My human nature recoils against the thought of someone else, anyone else shaping my destiny. Even God. And yet, I position myself over and over again for that very thing—God directing my life, my path, and my destiny. 

Significance Emerges from Faith and Trust

Sometimes i think everything comes down to faith and trust. We talk about it so much, and believe me, there are many, many times that I want life, and achievement, and significance to be something I decide upon. Something I pursue. Something I plan. A strategy. Sometimes I don’t want it to come down to faith and trust, I want to drive, I want to steer, I want to strategize, I want to reason, and think, and know that I will end up in a good place because I am smarter, I am faster, I think clearer than anyone else. Yet, I will find significance and be significant if I trust, if I have faith, if I believe God, if I listen to his heartbeat, if I follow his plan. 

We are choosing our next steps carefully. We want to shout out our plans and bring everyone in the loop, and in a few weeks we hope to be doing that, but for right now we are wrestling, much as Jacob did with the angel in Genesis 32. 

Significance isn’t something we plan, significance is something that happens when we invest ourselves in worthwhile things. I don’t want to be insignificant, I don’t want what we invest in to be insignificant. I think we must simply trust. Walking forward, with the right heart and motivation, and trust that we are not wasting our lives, but investing them wisely. 

Ours is to obediently move forward, it is God’s to make significant those things to which we have given ourselves. 

Calibration Tools… Calibrating Our Lives and Lifting Those We Love and Lead

  1. What do you see as the most significant accomplishments of your life up to this point? Why do you see them as significant? What does that tell you about the things you pursue in the future?
  2. Are you pursuing a significant life or is significance ensuing because of the life you are living? What’s the difference? Are their any attitude or perspective adjustments necessary here?

Finally…

My commitment is to concentrate on the right things and trust right things will happen. I want to focus upon following God’s agenda, serving others, having a mentality to be as transformational in my actions and relationships as I can be, and to trust that the good seed we are sowing in good soil will reap a harvest of significance. 

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