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Searching for Significance

May 16, 2014

Chapter Four
Significance: The Search for Meaning and Purpose

The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.

– Henry David Thoreau

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

– Jesus, John 10:10

The Problem

What do you think is a man’s greatest need?
Whether we speak of achieving our full potential, or only of surviving to the next paycheck, men invariably talk about their need to be significant. A man’s most innate need is his need to be significant – to find purpose and meaning.

How we answer the questions, “Who am I?” and “Why do I exist?” determines how we pursue our significance.

Authentic lasting significance is hid with Christ. Jesus said:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

That is to say, a man cannot find significance in any lasting way apart from Christ. So if a man is in Christ, and submitted to God’s plan and purpose, then he can satisfy his greatest need in a way that endures.

A Man’s Highest Hope

What is the highest hope of a man who does not have Christ?
Most men will never see their name in the newspaper.
At the very best, if you were a giant in your time, the most you could expect would be a couple of paragraphs in the World Book Encyclopedia.

A man’s ultimate desire is for immortality.

He has set eternity in the hearts of men. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

That’s part of what we mean when we say we want to be significant. We want “something” to survive us.

The Self-Gratification/Significance Distinction

We often only spend our energies to satisfy ourselves, rather than to serve others. Significance is not possible unless what we do contributes to the welfare of others. If what I do is only for my own self-gratification and pleasure, then I will never derive a lasting sense of purpose and meaning from it. On the other hand, when I embark on a task that will survive the test of benefitting others, a sense that what I am doing is important grows within me. And, if I make helping others my practice, a state of significance results.

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet he forfeits his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)

D-Monk’s Thoughts

I very much identify with the yearning for sense of significance. I want a life that has a purpose.

I can also say that the times in my life when I have experienced a sense of significance and purpose have been those when I have been surrendering my own will and desires in favor of doing the will of Christ. He truly is the vine and my life is fullest when I abide in Him.

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