Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Success is usually measured by what you do for yourself, significance is measured by what you do for others. As Zig Ziglar once said, “you can get everything you want in life, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Significance comes when we use the time, treasure and talent that God has given us to improve the lives of others. Giving without expecting anything in return. To help those who do not have the ability to pay us back for what we have given. Is there a problem that you see in the world that needs to be addressed? Bono of the band U2 put it this way, “History will be our judge, but what is written is up to us. We cannot say our generation didn’t know how to do it. We can’t say our generation couldn’t afford it and we can’t say our generation didn’t have reason to do it. Our problem is that the plight of suffering people simply hasn’t gotten personal for us.” If you focused on the problem could you get passionate enough about it that it would become personal for you? God wants more than institutional programs and strategic responses; He wants the problems to be as personal for me as it always is for Him.
The whole gospel encompasses tangible compassion for the sick and the poor, as well as biblical justice, efforts to right the wrongs that are so prevalent in our world. It is truly good news for the poor, and it is the foundation for a social revolution that has the power to change the world and if it was Jesus’ mission, it is also the mission of all who claim to follow him, It is my mission, it is your mission, and it is the mission of the Church. Are you willing to be open to God’s will for your life?
Though our personal significance comes from God our significance in life comes from our calling not our career. Often, we are too busy pursuing our careers to discern our calling, but there is a vast difference between career and calling.
“American society does not talk much about calling anymore. It is more likely to think in terms of career. Yet, for many people a career becomes the alter on which they sacrifice their lives. A calling, which is something that I do for God, is replaced by a career, which threatens to become my god. A career is something I choose for myself; a calling is something I receive. A career is something I do for myself, a calling is something I do for God. A career promises status, money or power; a calling generally promises difficulty and even suffering- and the opportunity to be used by God. A career is about upward mobility; a calling generally leads to downward mobility.” John Ortberg.
If you are still alive on this planet, it is because God has something for you to do. Do you believe you exist only for your own pleasure? Helping other people causes us to come fully alive. Like Jesus, who poured out His life and blood, so we were made to lay down our lives and give until it hurts. When God created you, He needed something done on earth that nobody else could do, so He designed you to do it better than anyone else.
Are you confused about where to start? Significance usually starts with a dream. Martin Luther King Jr. is not the only person who has had a dream! God has one for you as well. A dream from God is meant to impact other people, not just improve our position. It is built on human need. Here is how you can discover your dream:
1. Get alone with God. One reason people never discover their dream and calling in life is because they never stop long enough to listen. They are like the World War II pilot who became lost over the ocean and radioed back, “I have no idea where I am or where I’m headed but I am making record time.” It is an ironic habit of the human race that we double our speed when we’ve lost our way. Ask God to give you a dream that will fire your heart and saturate your soul with joy at the very thought of pursuing it. The first test that you can apply to your dreams is “Is it too big for me to fulfill without God’s help?” If you can do it without His help, then the dream is probably not big enough.
2. Review your passions, gifts and talents. Your passions, gifts and talents are the key to discovering God’s will for your life. Reviewing these things will help you develop a unique value proposition for your life. Here is a simple process to follow to help guide you:
a. List all your passions – the things that drive you out of love not external reward, list as many as you can that are important to you and then rank them.
b. List your strengths and talents – what are you good at? List as many strengths and talents as you can and rank them in order of importance to you.
c. Identify the causes that are important to you – what are the things that you feel an urge to do something about. Prioritize the list.
d. Look at your primary passions, your primary strengths and your most important causes, what direction does this give you about your calling and where you should be involved Where these things intersect will help you determine what you should pursue.
e. How can you get more informed about the causes and passions that are important to you It is easier to develop competence when you are passionate about a cause or niche.
The knowledge that this process brings will create in you a desire in your heart to make a difference.
3. Review your experiences. We pay attention not only to our desires and talents, but also to our past history. Pain has a role in who you are. Pain will either enlarge your heart or it will reduce it so that all you can think about is yourself. God wants to integrate your hurts and difficulties into your life message. He never wastes circumstances, even bad ones. Not all things are good, but we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28)
4. Decide what’s really important in life. Successful people learn to eliminate nonessentials, those things that won’t matter ten years from now. You will always have more opportunities than you have time. Learn to say no to things that are not a part of your calling. When you arrive at an airport from a flight, not every bag that comes down the conveyer belt has your name on it. Learn to only pick up the things on which God has put your name.
5. Begin to Explore different avenues. Do something, explore, you will find your place much quicker if you are actively participating. It is much easier to turn a rolling stone than one that is standing still. In Matthew 7, Jesus in the Sermon On The Mount says, Ask, Seek and Knock. Ask God what problem he would have you tackle. Seek information about the problem, what is being done about it and who seems to be most successful in addressing the problem. Finally, start knocking on doors, talk to the people who are making a difference and see if you can help them.
6. Journal what God is telling you. If you want to move ahead in your dream, you must write it down. A wise man once said that we don’t really know something until we are able to write it down. Journal about what God is telling you and it will give you strength in the tough times.