Several months ago, I heard a pastor talk about significance. For the life of me, I can’t remember exactly, but I believe it was Rick Warren. This pastor pointed out that it is very easy to confuse prominence for significance.
When you think prominence, picture your nose. Your nose is very apparent. Some are more apparent than others, but that’s another topic. It juts out for the world to see.
When you think significance, picture your heart. It is unseen to the world, even unseen to the person it sustains, yet it is vital.
You can live without a nose, but you can’t live without a heart.
Most of the time when people speak of significance, it’s really prominence they want. Fame. Success. Wealth. All it takes to achieve prominence in America is money, a good publicist, and bad behavior.
Significance comes from loving and serving others over the long haul.
I’m in the process of writing a paper (well, taking a break at the moment) in response to Donald Smith’s proposition: “Communication is involvement” from his book, Creating Understanding. Smith states that in order to truly communicate, you must build commonness. You share experiences, understand others’ worlds, and participate in their lives and culture.
The irony is that the first things we cut out of our lives in the search for “significance” are significant relationships. Real significance happens on the ground level. It happens in doing life with other people. That significance may or may not lead to fame and fortune, but it changes both you and the recipient forever.
At the risk of sounding trite, John Maxwell is right, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” And you can’t truly care about people you don’t know.
P.S. Through the magic of the internet, I have just confirmed that it was, in fact, Rick Warren.