Significance – Todd Patrick, LMHC

Many people long at the core of themselves to matter, to make a difference, to make an impact
on the world around them. There is a drive to be significant. According to Les Parrot he says,

“Significance is received, not achieved.”

What does that mean? We often find our value solely in doing, achieving and continually proving our value. There is a feeling of accomplishment that comes when someone says, “good job” or “here’s a raise in your salary for going above and beyond”. But, I have found that for most people the feelings that come along with accomplishment are often fleeting. As those feelings fade, there can be a continual need to fill the void.

The drive to sustain these positive feelings can be exhausting and draining. I believe anxiety and depression can run rampant when trying to keep this up. I am by no means saying we should not try to accomplish things. I think it is essential for good mental, physical and spiritual health that we do try to produce. However, it is important to look at the reasons behind our striving. It feels a bit complicated to decipher between accomplishment and significance. In Psalms 139 it says,

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” We were well thought out by God. We are God’s beloved. This is what makes us significant. This significance cannot be achieved, it is a gift. The Google Dictionary states significance as, “the quality of being worthy of attention; importance.” 

I remember the day I got my driver’s license on my 16th birthday. This was, and is, an important day to most sixteen year olds. I remember feeling excitedly anxious about this rite of passage as a teenager. The freedom this event would bring meant independence. I moved from bicycles to motor vehicles. I had joined the driver’s license club of my peers. I had become
significant.

This moment, along with many others such as my wedding day, kids’ births, graduations, passing the counselor licensing exam, etc. are all included in these most special times of my life. Significant moments in the human experience are vital, but they pale in comparison to what God says about you. Jeremiah 1:5 says,

“you are marked by My love.”

You are valuable. You are worthy. You are significant.

The things we have accomplished or done do not change this Biblical truth, “you are God’s workmanship”, found in Ephesians 2. Our significance is not based on performance. Les Parrott says,

“You can never live to the fullest or enjoy relationships at their peak until you experience a permanent and profound sense of significance deep in your soul. Only then will you hear a voice that reverberates in every corner of your personality, saying, ‘I’ve known you from the beginning and called you by name’.”

Our insecurities and traumas often keep us from remembering this God given significance. Fear and shame try to invade our hearts, minds, and souls to block this gift. The gift never leaves, we just need to be reminded in the same way the Israelites needed reminding out in the dessert. The Israelites used physical markers to remind them of their significance, and we need markers as well. We need to surround ourselves with good people and skills to bring us back to the place of remembering this significance.

Utilizing spiritual mentors, accountability, and faith communities to help foster growth in our faith are valuable. Also, using words such as, “I choose my responses….they don’t choose me” or “ no thought can dwell in my mind without my permission” can help us in remembering our significance. Writing out yearly, monthly, and daily goals, minimizing time on social media, writing a daily gratitude list, and reaching out to friends or family on a daily or weekly basis, as well as discovering ways you can serve in your Church and community can all be ways to help us remember our significance. You are God’s beloved
and therefore, you are significant.

  • Todd Patrick, LMHC