The Search for Significance
Updated: May 25, 2019
All of us have this innate desire for significance. We want to be deeply known and deeply loved. We want to know that the world is a better place because of our life and our impact. One of the biggest concerns in clients seeking therapy, according to Irvin Yalom, is trying to find meaning in life. This search results from asking the question, “Does my life matter? Do I matter?” Often, we go through seasons where we feel in a rut and feel that what we are devoting our lives to is not producing the results we had hoped for. Parents are pouring into their kids, devoting time, energy, and emotional investment, with little immediate results and for an ultimate end where the kids leave the nest and venture out on their own with often little thought of their parent’s sacrifices. Men and women in the work place work for years and years to gain success or a certain level of income and never feel that satisfying feeling that they have “made it”. The chase for success and recognition is an endless chase, leaving many wondering what kind of difference they even make in their lives at work. Young professionals are fresh out of college, starting careers they have prepared for their whole lives, often realizing it isn’t what they thought it would be and this sought-after career still leaves them wanting. Searching and searching, we all have moments, days, years, when we are confronted with the gripping terror: What if we have waisted our lives? What if nothing we are doing is making any difference in the world?
I was struck by something the other day while studying about Jesus’ 12 disciples. At home, the kids and I are trying to memorize different things in scripture and we recently were working on the 12 disciples of Jesus. We found a song on YouTube that went through each name in a catchy tune. The last disciple mentioned was Bartholomew. It just hit me, listening to that song the other day: who the heck is Bartholomew? Like, is there anything in scripture about him at all besides his calling? What did he do? What did he say? What ministry was he a part of after Jesus’ death? None of this information is recorded in the Bible! There were only 12 disciples. It seems like it would make good sense for God, in his divine sovereignty, to give us a glimpse into each one, but he doesn’t. It almost seems like Bartholomew was an insignificant disciple. He didn’t matter much. His contribution to society was not that great.
I think each one of us desires to be seen as a Paul or Peter in the Bible. One of the ones who helped write the New Testament; whose faith stories and missionary journeys are recorded. We like those guys. We want our lives to hold that kind of significance. But what if God sees us more like Bartholomews? Our significance doesn’t come from our recorded achievements or our recognized accolades. Our significance comes from Jesus choosing us as one of His very own. Those who belong in Christ are chosen! We are hand-picked to carry out God’s redemptive plan in our spheres of influence. Our significance is tied to Him; to His choosing of us and to His plan for our lives. Our lives have purpose and significance because He says they do; because we are made in His image and reflect His character to the world.
So, parents who are struggling, remember He has predestined you to love on those babies and reflect His character as you do it. Workers who feel that their careers are not satisfying, remember He has predestined you to work for His glory so that He may be seen in and through you as you engage with those in your offices. Young adults, remember He who called you is faithful, and He has called you to give Him glory wherever you land in life.
Thankfully, our significance has little to do with us. It has little to do with our achievements or lack of achievements. It has everything to do with a God who chose us, predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, and uses us to spread His love, patience, kindness, and gentleness to the world around us.