Without Walls Sermon Summary
Significance Over Success
I’ve been blessed in my ministry to travel to many countries around the world and experience the attitudes that various cultures have toward Americans. Recently as I traveled in the Dominican Republic I was somewhat surprised by the response that my wife and I received as the only Americans on a bus that contained more than twenty people from seven nations. They were not only excited to meet Americans, but were open in their response of reverence and honor. One woman stated that she had always wished that she had been born American instead of Argentinian and another young man proclaimed that his primary goal in life was to become like an American, in order to experience prosperity and success. These responses prompted me to ask the question, “What is my life’s goal?”, as a person, an American or more importantly as a Christian? Ultimately I realize that my main goal is to know God and to exalt Him in all that I do. But on a practical level, is my goal prosperity or purpose? In my heart I know there is a difference.
I believe that in Christ we find tangible purpose in life, to be compassionate, responsible and even useful. To make a difference in the lives we touch, to stand for something worth standing for. But if I am honest, in this nation it seems that our primary goal is financial success or fame, the pursuit of money and power. It was obvious that the people on this bus saw us in that light and wanted to be like us, a fact that honestly broke my heart. This pursuit of success seems to control every aspect of our lives. The direction we take, the vocation we choose, how we spend our time and energy. It even influences which relationships we choose to pursue, our schedules and ultimately our destinies. This drive for success at times becomes so all-consuming that it leaves broken and used people in its wake. The truth is that as a believer, financial or reputational success is not the greatest call on our lives. The reality is that worldly success quickly fades. Instead, pursuing a life of significance should be our goal.
John 3:30 (NLT) – “He must become greater and greater, I must become less and less…” In order to keep our lives on a path that leads us to this reality, it is best that we pursue a life of significance instead of a life of success.
Luke 9:25 (NIV) – “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Jesus says, what good will it do a man to experience all the success he could ever want, but in the process, lose himself, his significance, his very destiny?
The truth about success?
Success will always rise and fall with the world. Your success will ebb and flow with the national economy, political climate or world events. When the economy takes a dive or there is a tragic world event, your success is always affected. Your business, income or personal value will change accordingly.
The hard truth is that any financial success you experience in life ends on the day you die. All of your wealth and possessions immediately belong to someone else. Even if you have predetermined who that wealth will pass to, rest assured, it will never be you. You may have heard it said that you have never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer, I believe you will find that to be true.
The bottom line is that success is never enough for the temporal soul. No matter how much financial success you achieve, it always leaves you wanting more. One more dollar, one more thousand, one more million, you can never get enough. And truthfully, no matter how well known you may become, some people will never know you and most will never care.
But when you choose to live a life making choices of significance rather than pursuing success, you can rest assured that your significance will always endure. Your significance will always outlast you. When your life on earth is done, the choices that you made to do something significant instead of pursuing worldly success, will continue to have a positive impact on the people you have touched. Even if the world considers these choices and accomplishments insignificant, they will continue to produce blessing long after you’re gone. A life driven by significance rather than the pursuit of success is a life that keeps on giving. When we positively touch the life of another human being, and that person changes the life of another, who impacts the life of another, who influences another… He becomes greater and greater, while we become less and less… It is about leaving His footprint in the world and not our own.
Ultimately, living a life of significance satisfies something deep within our eternal soul. While the thirst for success is never quenched, doing something with lasting significance (that often seems insignificant to those around you) satisfies a deep yearning in our heart. It allows us at the end of the day, month or year, to know we have lived a life that was valuable. Valuable not because we achieved earthly success, but because we touched people at their point of need, offering hope, offering something of significance. Many people today, in and out of the church, spend their lives chasing success. While some achieve more than others, most find all that they have accumulated as unfulfilling in the end. But a life that has chosen to focus on significance rather than success is a life that rarely looks back with regret, never struggling with the feeling that they wasted too much time pursuing things that in the end were fleeting.
I pray that you will choose a life of significance today, a life that will keep on giving after you’re gone! I promise that you will not regret the choice.
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