When we talk about significance, we can either be talking about people or things. While I want to focus on being a significant person, let’s just look at a thing that is significant. A statistic can be significant: it leads to a conclusion of some sort. A fact can be significant: it changes how we think of something (such as the significance of a political party being elected or of nuclear power). It’s a word that we think we know what it means, but you have to really work hard to nail it down. It talks about being important, and carrying meaning in some sort of way. Here’s the thing that really got me: a significant thing is not important in its own right, it’s only importance is in what it leads to. A significant fact is only significant because of the repercussions that it causes.
In our world, we talk about wanting to live a life of significance, but I don’t think we stop and think about that enough. We often like the sound of doing great things for God because it elevates us above others in a spiritual sounding way. Many people are enamoured by the thought of thousands of people listening to them preach. But that’s celebrity, not significance. The thought that’s been on my mind is that the essence of significance is servanthood. A significant person is remembered for what they gave, a memory that may well outlast them. Celebrity comes and goes, but when someone sows into you, or gives you exactly what you need at the point where you need it. You are a significant person when you throw yourself into giving what you’ve got (both material and what’s inside you) to those around you. You cannot label yourself a significant person – only those around you can decide that.
What does this look like on a practical level? It’s a choice in the little things: on a Saturday afternoon, do you choose to stay home and watch movies, or do you go and help a friend’s mum renovate her house. One sounds more relaxing, but it keeps you in your own selfish little world. Three months from now, no-one will care (including yourself!) that you stayed home and did your own thing. But you will be remembered for taking what you had and giving it away.