Significance

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.

travelingSitting 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?

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Significance

  1. Tracy Hernandez

    I think you’ve already covered it in your post. Significance is doing exactly what God has for you to do. But I think that just because you’re doing what God means for you to be doing right now, doesn’t mean that’s what it will be forever. It can evolve. He can move you onto different paths. It’s so important to stay open to the “Endless Possibilities”! (I believe Serenity passed that little gem onto me… words to live by!)
    Leonard and I are very happy with the life and the responsibilities God has given us so far. And yet, we have recently become very aware that it’s getting harder to live our lives the way we do knowing there are people out there struggling so hard just to stay alive, to keep their children alive. There are mothers who love their children just as much as I do that have to worry every day that they may get hit by roadside bombs or starve to death. Our burden for these people is there, and it’s very real. Right now, all we know to do is pray, but where it will eventually lead, we aren’t sure.

  2. katieleigh

    Wow. Very thought-provoking. I got chills from reading about your grandpa…he reminds me of my own grandpa, faithful and godly to the last.

    I agree with Tracy…the way of achieving significance does evolve. I think it has to, as we grow and change. But it’s always important to keep that in mind…otherwise you’ll end up a bit aimless. I’ll definitely be mulling over this one further.

  3. Yes! Significance in your season! That is perfect. If you understand your season you will understand how to be significant within it.

    Thanks, Tracy and katieleigh!

  4. serenitybohon

    Mmmm, I love this post – it’s like soul balm.

  5. What a powerful post.
    It’s so true. I’m going to print off that quote read it every day.
    I’d love to meet your Aunt Lynnie–in fact I’d love to meet your whole family!

  6. Cheri White

    A wonderful post! Very thought-provoking and needful!

  7. I think I’d like to write about her … at least, someone like her. She used to make us save the wrapping paper at Christmas! She would spend what seemed like hours to me sitting in the middle of the present-opening hub-bub calmly smoothing out the creases and wrinkles.

  8. yowza. this really is a beautiful and thought-provoking post.

    one of my staff (the main worship leader who’s more like one of my sons than an employee) read a quote from derek webb to me the other day, something we’re trying to live by, and i think it applies here too:

    “our ultimate concern isn’t success, but faithfulness.” now THAT’S significant!

  9. The Derek Webb quote is perfect!

    In case anyone wants to know, the quote I use at the top of the post is from a local pastor. His name is Dennis Thomas and he pastors at Grandview Church in Quincy, Illinois.

  10. Dave Pingel

    Interesting post, Felicity.

    Some loose thoughts –

    Significance is more in the being, less in the doing.

    Significance is what YOU determine within, not what others determine for/about you from without.

    If you had a choice to be known as one who did great things for God or one whom God used greatly, which would you choose? Think about that for a minute. Now think about this: When each is asked as its own question, on whom is the focus?

    Whose life is insignificant to our Father?

    Who will you be with the significance He has given you?

    I enjoy your thoughts and writings.
    Dave

  11. I’m a missionary and I STILL struggle with feelings of insignificance at times. As others wrote, I try to keep my focus on daily obedience and my love relationship with Jesus. I have to let Him take care of the “significant” aspect of it all.

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