Phil Downer in his book, Eternal Impact, differentiates between the value of success and significance. For success, he likes the definition Chip MacGregor and Bobb Biehl devised, “the feeling you get when you reach your goals.” Phil defines significance as “making a difference in the lives of people over time.” For Downer, the distinction between success and significance is that the former ends with the attainment of goals whereas the latter has a lasting dimension. I’m conflicted with his distinction because the ability to attain significance is a mark of success. But let’s take it deeper to the point Phil is really making—reproduction of what is important is what we ought to seek. To do this requires training.
Ephesians 4:11-13—And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God's Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ's fullness.
Recently I sat on a plane next to a man named John. Several months ago, John’s wife of 15 years left him for another man. She was his second wife. His first wife left him after 10 years of marriage for similar reasons. When I looked in his eyes, I saw a kind, confused man. I shared with John that the reasons his wives left him were not really about or because of him, they were about the emptiness in their hearts that marriage was not filling. After interacting with his ex-wives, John hears that neither of them is happy. As he described his current journey to see his girlfriend, it was obvious that he also is unfulfilled.
In an age of relativism the roar of the crowd is to tame God’s Word. Two traps await Christians in this hostile environment.
Nine young men sat on the hardwood court as I read to them a short sport story and then gave two applications. They listened attentively to the lesson on courage. After sharing I handed them each a copy to put in their notebooks. The practice was over but one player lingered to read the story on his own. Another stood silent as his dad animatedly discussed the paper with him. One of the mothers came and commented on how much she appreciated the character lessons.
The Thanksgiving holiday is supposed to be about remembering how blessed we are by our Almighty Father in heaven. If gratitude is the point, food is the reminder. In truth, a hearty feast is a wonderful custom for celebrating our blessings. Not a Thanksgiving goes by for me that I don’t think back to traveling to Newburgh, NY with my roommate and best friend, Dave Mead. We would totally stuff ourselves at his grandmother’s house—eating was a competitive sport for two young cadets.
Michael Savage, whose radio talk show grows in popularity, angrily decries the state of America. He bemoans the ascent of evil while he rudely blasts a caller he disdains. Psychiatrists in San Francisco recently met to propose that pedophilia should not be a crime and should become accepted as homosexuality was in the ‘70’s. The Voice of the Martyrs reports horrendous attacks against Christians across the planet. God’s children are horrifically tortured in China, Indonesia, Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan, North Korea . . . In Canada, a debate rages to outlaw portions of the Bible that contain “hate speech.”
Deuteronomy 6:5-7--Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Many people have studied the life and ministry of Jesus. There is much written about His three-fold ministry of teaching, preaching and healing revealed in the gospels. But it seems to me that Jesus’ most important work was His fourth ministry of training! Where would the world be today had He not invested His life in the lives of His followers? John Maxwell, a superb trainer of leaders says, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”
Romans 14:8-- If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
1 Timothy 6:11,12--But you, man of God, run from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life that you were called to and have made a good confession about in the presence of many witnesses.