September 22, 2018

Pastoral Nuggets: Define Significant

“Define significant,” is what I wrote in the margins of a book I am reading by Eric Bryant entitled, “Not Like Me.”

To put it into context for you, the full sentence reads, “We were created to do something significant with our lives.”

And while I wholeheartedly agree with his statement, I submit that significant is a relative term that doesn’t always coincide with, mesh with, or line-up with society’s definition.

We tend to equate being significant as being the person who finds a cure for cancer, eliminates poverty, or orchestrates world peace. But if that is the measuring stick for doing something significant with our lives, then most of us will die having lived an insignificant life.

I pose a question to you – who did something more significant, Albert Einstein in developing his theory of relativity, or the teacher who taught him math?

During one of his last public appearances, I believe Einstein answered that question when he said, “You ask me to answer all sorts of questions, but no one has ever wanted to know who was my teacher, who showed me the way to the higher mathematical science, thought and research.

I simply say that my teacher was the unrivalled Greek, Konstantinos Karatheodoris, to who we owe everything…” – Albert Einstein, 1955

As a rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, or Indian chief, (As the saying of years ago phrased it) you may have days when you wonder if you are doing anything significant with your life. When those days come, and they will come, I encourage you to remember Einstein.

Remind yourself that behind the man, who made one of the most significant discoveries known to mankind, was – a teacher – someone who influenced his life! (Stop and reread that last sentence!) No, you may not find a cure for cancer, eliminate poverty, or do something to orchestrate world peace.

But in your circle of influence, you may be influencing somebody who will. And hey, that makes you and what you’re doing very significant!

I have the privilege of working with three groups of preachers/pastors. We meet once a month and I do leadership mentoring with them. I tell them that I am now sixty-two years old. If I have only learned one significant thing a year, then at this stage of my life, I should be able to teach them sixty-two significant things that will help them become better leaders.

I tell them that if I know where the mud puddles are, there is no need for them to have to find them on their own. And I also try to stress to them that the moments of great significance they will encounter – often come with no fanfare.  Sometimes, the most significant thing they will ever do – is conversely, the simplest thing they will ever do.

As I look back over my life I can identify some accomplishments or successes I have enjoyed along the way that the world might deem significant.

However, I have never felt more significant than I did around forty years ago when Beverly, the wife of one of my deacons, introduced me to one of her friends. She said, and I quote, “I want you to meet Brother Aaron.  When I need him to be, he’s my pastor.

The rest of the time – he’s just my friend.” No, I didn’t discover a cure for cancer, eliminate poverty, or find a way to orchestrate world peace. But yeah; that moment was significant to me!

In fact, it was significant enough that forty years later it is still serves as the benchmark by which I measure whether or not something I have done in my ministry is significant.

My challenge to you today is simply this: Define Significant!

Brother Aaron

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