Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Finding a Life of Significance

If you are anything like me (and you can decide if that is a good thing or not), there is a longing in your heart to experience life. Right now you are existing rather than living—going from one activity to another while making sure all your responsibilities are done. While there are small joys you have discovered along the way there is still something within you that cries for something more.

This is the longing of my heart. I want a life which will make a difference in this world and that helps me rise above the mundane things of this world. As I have thought about this a couple of truths of struck me. Understanding these truths I think will help us understand what a life of significance is.

First, significance is not the same thing as being famous or popular. One of the signs I thought I would have a life of significance was to be able to speak at large youth conferences and other such events. I remember hearing Mark Moore, a guy that happens to do a lot of that, remark that more he speaks at large events the less value he sees in it. He points out that the smaller the group, the bigger the impact. For many of us the significance in our lives will not be discovered in everybody knowing our names or other people quoting us and saying how brilliant we are (though that would be nice). Rather our significance will be found in a small group of people we are able to impact right where we are.

I think a person like my Grandpa Steele is a great example of significance. He wasn’t much more than an Iowa farmer, but he raised a family that has been very involved in the Church over the years, and who has grandchildren who are Christians, many who are teachers or have other jobs which impact other people. That is not counting my brother, sister, and I who are in the paid ministry. There have been hundreds of people who have been directly or indirectly impacted by my Grandpa Steele.

Why was Grandpa able to make such an impact? It was because of his faith. The person I knew as my Grandfather was a different person my Dad knew as Father. The older he got the more mature he grew in his faith in God. As I try to discover a life of significance I think about my Grandpa Steele and realize that it is the result of a living a life of faith which impacts those around you.

Second, significance does not mean an exciting life. It is easy to see our lives as boring because our lives seem to be dominated by the responsibilities of life. While it can seem that fulfilling our responsibilities and commitments is not very significant, it is what God expects His children to do. We need to stop thinking that significance is about excitement and always being able to do something that is meaningful. A dull routine is often what life looks like.

A life of significance does not change that. What significance does is that it helps you understand there is purpose in your life. Having significance and purpose reminds us that we are not just existing day to day, but that there is value in what you do. There are many ways to spice up your life, but finding significance is more about adjusting the way we look at the world. It is understanding that there is value even in the mundane tasks of life.

Significance, therefore, is found in a life of purpose and not in a life of excitement. Most of us are destined to live the life of routine. We won’t have much excitement in our lives, but we can have purpose. While we take care of all the things that need to be done we begin to see that God has a purpose for our lives. Significance is found as we give ourselves away to God’s purpose for our lives. I wish I could tell you what your purpose is, but I don’t know. There is no hard and fast formula for discovering it, but I will tell you what I do know. Your purpose will always have to do with loving God and loving people. How do I know that? Because that is what Jesus’ purpose in life was all about. When we live a life which loves God and people then we are in the best position to discover our purpose in life.

A life of significance is not about a total life overhaul, but it is about being faithful to God in the place that He has place us. It will not make you famous nor will it make your life exciting, but it will make your life good. In the end isn’t that all we really want?

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