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Success vs. Significance

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."1

Michael Josephson of Character Counts talks about the difference between success and significance. He says, "The irony is that living a life focused on the pursuit of significance is so much more gratifying than one devoted to the treadmill of success. Whatever sacrifices are involved tend to enlarge rather than diminish personal satisfaction.... Quite simply, it feels good—really, really good—to be valued and valuable.

"So, people who pursue significance are concerned with making the most out of their lives. They help others not only for the sake of those they help but for their own sake. When we use our mental and material resources to make a positive difference in the lives of others, we are rewarded with a sense of satisfaction that's hard to get any other way. Success can produce pleasure, but only significance can generate fulfillment."2

Sounds like good advice to me—as does the timely advice attributed to Stephen Grellet, the Franco-American Quaker (1773-1885)—who said: "I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow-creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again."

We don't have to be famous to be significant. Every kind deed, kind word, thoughtful action, is significant. Added up over a lifetime, in God's eyes they make a life both significant and truly successful.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please deliver me from wanting to be successful only in human terms, but rather significant and successful in Your eyes by being 'as Christ' in some way to every life I touch. So help me God. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Galatians 6:2 (RSV)(NIV).
2. Michael Josephson, "A Road Map to Significance," Character Counts (324-2),


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.