Struggling with Significance

Tea Word Art and LeavesMint Tea Memories

When I got the flu as a kid, my Amish neighbors brought me freshly-brewed mint tea. As I brewed my own tea from freshly-picked mint recently, I recalled this memory and realized that I actually enjoyed being sick as a child. Well, not the sick part but the attention. I felt special… important… significant.

Being sick as an adult does not produce the same results. Well, that’s not exactly true. When I got my tonsils out, my husband kept me steadily supplied with iced coffee. And recently when I had a fever off and on for a week, my youngest son made sure I always had tea and water to drink. During these times, I felt special and enjoyed someone taking care of me.

These memories surface as my struggle with significance especially pulls at me. We all like to feel special and like we matter to others, yet so often we fail to regularly feel that way. We seem to only truly feel special when someone goes out of their way to make that happen, which never seems to happen enough.

Defining Significance

To be significant means to be “important” or “of consequence.” When something is important, it “matters much” and “is entitled to more than ordinary consideration or notice.” When something is “of consequence,” it has “distinction” and deserves to be treated with special honor.

Think of the people you consider “significant” in your life. Do you treat them as important and deserving of special treatment? For me, I can honestly answer… “Sometimes, but not as often as I should.” And with that answer, I begin to wonder if the same struggle for significance lies within each of us.

Struggling for Significance

In my struggle for significance, I feel unimportant and often ask myself, “Does what I do and who I am really matter?” And the gauge I usually use to answer this question falls with my view of how others treat me. And really, that’s not fair to them or to me.

With busy lives and so much coming at us all the time, can we truly show significance to those who really are more than ordinary to us? Unfortunately, most people are spread too thin to adequately be able to do so.

Because of our human imperfection, we fail in truly expressing how important others are to us. As much as I struggle feeling significant, I equally struggle with letting others know they are significant to me.

A Proper View of Significance6-7-13 Psalm 139

My view of my own significance becomes skewed because I base it on imperfection. When I instead base it on a perfect, holy God, a completely different perspective emerges.

Matthew 18:12-14 tells the story of a shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep in front of him to find the one lost sheep to illustrate how important just one person is to our Heavenly Father who does not “will that even one of these ones should perish.”

Matthew 10: 29-31 talks about how if God knows when one sparrow falls to the ground and we are more valuable than they, and if He knows the number of the hairs on each of our heads, should we not feel significant to Him?

While we must keep a proper view of ourselves and not consider ourselves as more important than others (Philippians 2:3), we must also realize that WE ARE ALL IMPORTANT. God values each one of us enough to give us His very image (Genesis 1:27), so to think we don’t have significance means to reject the importance a perfect God places upon us.

DISCUSSION: Please share any thoughts, insights and perspectives you have regarding significance.

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20 thoughts on “Struggling with Significance

  1. Good and important thoughts kari. Tragically, we live in world where significance is garnered by our bank accounts, what we possess, where we live, etc. God has never seen us that way. Never has. Never will. I know I matter to Him. I also consider it a "life mission" to tell others that same truth for their lives.

    • Our culture certainly has messed up what significance means and how to have it. We strive after it in ways that we can never actually get it, at least not in ways that stick and truly make us feel valuable. So glad God sees me as valuable! My part of that mission is to get God's Word out in a way that helps people know the value He gives them.

  2. Over at our home church, the sermon series is "No Sacred Cows", with this past week's sermon a barbeque of the idol called "Success" – so many of us measure our significance by the size of our wallet, or the number of cars, the size of our home, etc. – God measured our significance by dying for us. No stock portfolio could ever equal that, or be worth chasing (not that I'm in any danger of that 🙂 )

    That being said, I think it is good that we all feel that need to be treated as special. I think it would be wrong to try to manipulate people into providing me with that treatment, but it is fine to feel that way when someone makes the effort of their own volition. I can't remember who sang the song "I want to leave a legacy…", but that says a lot on this 🙂

    Good morning, Michigan 🙂

    • Definitely on a mission to have significance over success, and I want that significance to be rooted in Him and then to glorify Him. Our significance first comes from the value He gave us by dying on the cross for our sins. Out of that grows a life made significant by love… a response to His love for us by loving others and helping them to realize they are immensely significant too. Just feeling like I want those around me to know more how important they are to me and how important they are to God. One way He shows them they are important is through me, and that's a big responsibility!

  3. You are so right about our putting unfair expectations on others when we look to them for our significance. I keep reminding myself of the things you posted on New Hope blog about God's love for us and what brings Him joy. US…so therefore I know I have significance not because of family and friends, but because of Him. Renee Swope addresses this well in her book, "A Confident Heart". By the way YOU KARI are significant and what you do is as well. Thank you!

  4. I think we all want to know that who we are and what we do matters. I know sometimes I only feel significant if I impact someone's life in a meaningful way. I know we are all worthy to God. I guess I have to be careful behind my motives for doing something. Am I doing it so I can feel significant or am I doing it in response to who God is.

    • The intentions of the heart are very important here for sure. We must know why we are doing something. As we do it because we want Him to be glorified, He becomes why we are significant.

  5. I've often prayed, asking God to help me see people through His eyes and to love them with His heart. On my own, I can quickly judge (myself most harshly), but with His help I can see through the lens of Grace to the people God created.

    That we are each created in His image, that we are all unique is just awesome. Sadly I can get too busy to realize this.

    So grateful for His love, forgiveness and grace.

    Enjoyed reading.

    • Definitely a prayer I need to pray more often. I want to see others more through the lens of love. I too am extra hard on myself, so I get what you're saying there too. God is SO creative! I love that He made us all so differently and that He has a unique plan for each of us to carry out. I think we can help others in doing God's will by appreciating their uniqueness.

  6. The 'first shall be last" comes to mind. Seeking significance reveals the risk of insignificance at the King's table. God values all of us equally. Question: If we all are equal in God's eyes, are we all not significant to God? Likewise, if we have been called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, should we love any one neighbor more than another? If we rise up to seek significance who must forgo their significance so we might receive it? Does not the call to humility cause us to surrender our demand for significance? These are questions I thought about on this subject. I am not sure if there is a right answer…just thinking out loud.

    • Great questions that stimulate my thinking for sure. Seems like the key is "seeking significance" over "accepting" or "receiving" significance as a gift from God because of what Jesus did for us. We are all significant/important, but not MORE significant/important. Loving others as lives intersect doesn't mean loving one more than another; it just means loving as a part of life. If significance is a competition thing, like it seems to be in our culture at times, then there has to be a winner and loser. But in God's eyes, it's not a competition. It's something we all get to have. Humility seems to be a part of significance somehow in that we recognize our value in God's eyes and realize we don't deserve it. Defining significance/importance/value needs to happen based on God's view and not our culture's or our own view. One is a gift, the other is focused on what self can obtain. Those are my "out loud" thoughts as they bounce off yours. Great discussion!

  7. If we don't see ourselves through God's eyes, we keep going back and forth between pride and insecurity–depending on whose eyes we're looking through – or if it's our eyes, then depending on what we did that day, etc. I notice I've developed a new weakness to see myself through how I did that day. Working on it so it doesn't take root!

    • I kind of do that too in that I process events over and over sometimes instead of reflecting, learning and letting go. Realizing is the first step to being able to fixing the problem!

  8. At times I don't feel significant though I only have to look toward God and my family to see that's a false lie. Each person is significant and valuable in God's eyes. Great passages Barb!

  9. I sometimes wonder if the search for significance is really a healthy thing. At least to me sometimes it seems like it's not. I struggle with defining significance by being better than others or somehow special from others. It's hard for me to understand that I'm significant but everyone else is too. That's something I struggle with truly grasping and feeling emotionally.

    • It can be for sure. And I do not feel it either, which is why I needed to write the post & get God\’s perspective. I am learning to not let my feelings lead me, not that you are doing that. I just know that is a big part of my hangup.

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