We all want to do something in our lives that is significant. We all want our lives to count for something. For some, this desire goes to a different level, and they want to be famous. For others, significance comes in the form of being a good parent.

For me, I wonder sometimes if my desire to live a life of significance is a matter of my pride coming to the forefront. I have to ask myself questions such as:

1) Would I be content living a life where I wouldn’t be recognized or respected?
2) Would I be content living a life where my only contribution to ministry in this world would be as an intercessor, behind the scenes?
3) Is my desire to be “significant” about me feeling good about myself or about helping others?

Certainly these aren’t the only questions to ask, but they are the first to come to mind. My answers to those questions and those similar aren’t glowing, to say the least. But I’ve come to realize a few things about our God:

1) I am profoundly significant to God. You and I are priceless in the eyes of the Father. We are worth the price of His Son, Jesus, dying for each of us in order to enjoy an intimate relationship with us, both here and now, and for eternity. Because Jesus is the epitome of significance, I am free to be insignificant by the world’s definition.

2) When it comes to being significant, valuable, or loved by God, my performance doesn’t matter. Whether I fail or succeed, I am loved, valuable, and significant. My value or significance to God is not determined by what I do, but by Whose I am. I am free to fail because Jesus succeeded.

3) God not only loves me, He likes me. He knows my flaws, baggage, and hang-ups. He knows my pet-peeves, my idiosyncrasies, and nervous habits. He knows the secrets from my past and my secret thoughts from yesterday. And He still likes me! He knit me together in my mother’s womb and knows every thought that crosses my mind. He knows how I am made… because He made me! Because He likes me (and of course, loves me), I am freed from living to please people. I am freed from always thinking about what other people think of me. I am content to be loved by God. I am content to be liked by God. Because Jesus was and is perfect, I am free to be imperfect. I am also free to allow others to be imperfect. (I’m still working on that one)

Living a life of significance is something I desire. It’s something that I think we all desire. But growing up in a performance-based culture has skewed our definition of significance.

We are significant not by what we do, but by Whose we are.

Always a teacher…

I met a school teacher named Liz yesterday in a gift shop in North Dakota. She worked behind the counter but, believe me, she is still a school teacher. You can just tell.

As I discovered her story (a small part of it), she shared how she graduated from college in this small town in central North Dakota and how she stayed her, teaching elementary school for 34 years. She ran a tight ship, for sure. She had retired several years ago and started working in this gift shop in Jamestown to make a little money.

As Liz talked to me, suddenly two small children came in from seeing the live buffalo in the rear of the property and ran through HER gift shop. As one tried to run by her, she gently stopped him and said, “You forgot. No running through my gift shop.”

She told the story of a third grade boy who was a bully beginning in Kindergarten. When he reached her third grade class, he still couldn’t read. She took him aside, gave him special attention after school was long-dismissed, and by the end of the school year, he was reading well enough to move to the fourth grade.

After his high school graduation and again after his college graduation he wrote to her, thanking her for the special attention and love he received in third grade. He said that he didn’t know where he would’ve ended up without her. As she told me that, a tear came to her eye, she became a little fidgety over showing the emotion and moved onto other chores.

There are many like Liz along the road. Some with stories of regret. Some with stories of leaving a legacy and making a diffeence.

So, if your listening Mrs. Kohler or Mr. Hale, thanks for making a difference in my schooling. You inspired me and lit a fire under me when I needed it.

And “thank you” to all you school teachers out there… you are making a difference!