On Wednesday night, I was talking with the youth about our sources of significance. What or who is it that we look to to validate our worth and to prove our significance?
There is a lot of similarity between how teens and adults would answer: Relationships. Work or Grades. Success. Money. Popularity. Looks. Influence. There is a long list of fleeting things that we allow to have a lasting impact on our lives. When these things serve as our sources of significance, we live fearful, chaotic lives because we are always chasing that which can’t be caught.
It was ironic to me that Wednesday night’s youth gathering turned into a long look in the mirror regarding my source of significance. Wednesday night was off – in so many ways. Tech issues. Tired youth. Interruptions. It was one of those nights where you could sense that we were there but not really there. Some kids ignored another kid. During singing some kids were goofing off and distracting. And it made me angry and frustrated and I chewed on the kids some out of frustration.
I was trying to think later about why it made me so upset. Maybe it is because I’ve been patient for so long and then I lose it. Maybe it is because I get really angry when I see people exclude someone else. Maybe it was because I was more frustrated with myself that I was late getting things started.
But I think a lot of it had to do with my source of significance. I find significance in success. I hate to fail. As a youth pastor, I sometimes think success is whether my youth “get it”. Whether they love God. Whether they make choices that please Him. Whether they love or grow or serve. When my youth “fail”, I feel like a failure. And that isn’t fair – to them or to me. Today, this tweet appeared in my feed from David Fitch:
The “impactful” word is so true me. I want to impact lives. I want people to be transformed by God. I want people to live liberated lives because they have embraced God’s grace.
But I want it too much. It has become my source of significance. I live to help make transformation happen. When it doesn’t, I feel like I’ve failed and that I’m insignificant. And thus, it has become my source of frustration, depression, inadequacy, misery, limitation.
God is truly our only Source of significance. His love and his grace are unconditional and are immune to anything we may or may not do. His pleasure should be all we seek. His displeasure should be all we fear.
It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Ephesians 2:1-6 (MSG)
What do you look to as your source of significance? Is it working for you? How do you keep God as your source of significance? Share a comment below.