Are you accomplishing something significant? Do you see yourself as significant?
Feeling significant is a major quest for some people. In fact, it is a deep-rooted identity issue. Our society contributes to this issue by attempting to make everyone feel significant–thus our kids play games at school where there are no winners or losers. On one level we could legitimately say that in our culture “feeling significant” is a basic human need.In our culture “feeling significant” is a basic human need. Click To Tweet
In Richard Rohr’s outstanding book, Adam’s Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation, he describes the practice of male initiation rites and vision quests that many cultures have practiced throughout the ages. His study reveals that there are five common themes in all male initiation rites, no matter the people or culture. These five themes, which he calls promises, are:
- Life is hard
- You are not important
- Your life is not about you
- You are not in control
- You are going to die
Having been taught these five promises of life, through a male initiation rite, men were better equipped to live genuine lives and to lead well.
All five of these promises strike me as profoundly true and whether I observe them individually or collectively I am struck by the common notion that, in a sense, we are not significant.
Consider yourself in relation to time. The universe has existed for a very long time and more than likely will continue to exist for a very long time after you are dead. What is the scope of your significance in terms of time?
Consider yourself in relation to the magnitude of the universe. The universe is larger than anyone can possibly measure, and according to many it is constantly expanding. What is the scope of your significance in terms of the magnitude of the universe?
Quite frankly, apart from our family and friends none of us are very significant at all. As a result of this we often search for significance in what we accomplish. For the most part this seems futile as well. The threat of disaster or new technology always looms over the horizon, either of which might wipe away all that we’ve worked so hard to accomplish.Apart from our family and friends none of us are very significant at all. Click To Tweet
Where Can Significance Be Found
If significance is not found within one’s self or in what one accomplishes, where is significance to be found?
Significance is found in the simple truth: I am created in the image of God and am deeply loved by Him.
This truth is liberating. It is completely freeing. It means that I no longer have to search for reasons to stand out from the crowd. I no longer have to distinguish myself as unique and/or different. I no longer have to accomplish something that outlives me in order to be significant.
I am significant in spite of my insignificance.
Repentance and Significance
This simple truth would make a world of difference for leaders. It would allow them to hold their agendas with open hands, recognizing that their significance is not wrapped up in their dreams or accomplishments. It would allow them to lead out of places of brokenness and humility, rather than pride and arrogance. Embracing this truth, leaders would spend more time in silence as they simply accept a significance that is given to them and is not their own. They in turn would be freed to lead other insignificant people to find true significance.
I believe that the hope for the church lies in the repentance of her leaders. Those of us who are called to lead must confess the insignificance of our own lives and agendas so that we are left with nothing to cling to and nothing to champion other than the cross of Jesus–the confirmation that insignificant people are significant beyond measure.I believe that the hope for the church lies in the repentance of her leaders. Click To Tweet
Missio Alliance Comment Policy
The Missio Alliance Writing Collectives exist as a ministry of writing to resource theological practitioners for mission. From our Leading Voices to our regular Writing Team and those invited to publish with us as Community Voices, we are creating a space for thoughtful engagement of critical issues and questions facing the North American Church in God’s mission. This sort of thoughtful engagement is something that we seek to engender not only in our publishing, but in conversations that unfold as a result in the comment section of our articles.
Unfortunately, because of the relational distance introduced by online communication, “thoughtful engagement” and “comment sections” seldom go hand in hand. At the same time, censorship of comments by those who disagree with points made by authors, whose anger or limited perspective taints their words, or who simply feel the need to express their own opinion on a topic without any meaningful engagement with the article or comment in question can mask an important window into the true state of Christian discourse. As such, Missio Alliance sets forth the following suggestions for those who wish to engage in conversation around our writing:
1. Seek to understand the author’s intent.
If you disagree with something the an author said, consider framing your response as, “I hear you as saying _________. Am I understanding you correctly? If so, here’s why I disagree. _____________.
2. Seek to make your own voice heard.
We deeply desire and value the voice and perspective of our readers. However you may react to an article we publish or a fellow commenter, we encourage you to set forth that reaction is the most constructive way possible. Use your voice and perspective to move conversation forward rather than shut it down.
3. Share your story.
One of our favorite tenants is that “an enemy is someone whose story we haven’t heard.” Very often disagreements and rants are the result of people talking past rather than to one another. Everyone’s perspective is intimately bound up with their own stories – their contexts and experiences. We encourage you to couch your comments in whatever aspect of your own story might help others understand where you are coming from.
In view of those suggestions for shaping conversation on our site and in an effort to curate a hospitable space of open conversation, Missio Alliance may delete comments and/or ban users who show no regard for constructive engagement, especially those whose comments are easily construed as trolling, threatening, or abusive.