I am not consumed with success, but I am consumed with significance.
When the visiting preacher said these words, I typed them into my notes before pausing a moment to let their meaning have its effect. I’m surrounded by missionaries. Actually, most of the men and women around me would call themselves pastors or evangelists. It so happens that they live and minister in a country different than the one in which we sit. They are not Americans. They are Filipinos ministering to Filipinos. They are Egyptians ministering to Egyptians. They may not be the Western definition of missionary, but they are missionaries in the truest sense of the word.
Sitting among spiritual greatness like this I feel insignificant. My role here is to sing songs, lead worship. But every year I am the one being led. I open the song but feel my own emotions and voice moved to passion by the raised hands and sincere faces I see in front of me. I wonder what will be my significance?
Should I have made a drastic move like my Great-Aunt Lynnie so many years ago? Right out of high school she enrolled in nursing school. Missionary training followed. She spent 50 years in the mountains and jungles of Africa. She never married. Her mission board made her come back to America to retire at 80-something, but this was never home for her again. She was home in the Congo when the faithful men in remote villages took turns carrying her on their backs to visit the sick because her own legs had grown too old to carry her quickly. Is this significance?
Perhaps I am more like my Grandpa Nickerson. When he was a young man he asked God what he should do with his life. Should he go into the ministry? Perhaps support a missionary or a special project? God simply replied to my grandfather’s heart, “Be a good husband and father.” He did that. In a legacy that includes 4 children, 18 grandchildren, and too many great-grandchildren to count, not one of us has walked away from Christian traditions of faith. Not one. Is this significance?
What is your definition of significance? How will you know you have achieved it?