How would your life change if tomorrow I just dropped off the face of the earth, if you would never see or hear from me again?
Don't answer that.
This is a question I used to have. I used to wonder how much I impacted people's lives, to want to watch my funeral, to know my significance to others. But when coming from others, this question has a way of getting under my skin. There has always been something off about that question, and tonight, I figured out why.
The failsauce of this question really has three components.
Numero uno, the question is intrinsically self-centered. Nombre deux, the emphasis is on the asker's worth, significance, and impact to and on the other party. Nummer drei, the emphasis of the asker's question rests on something that is temporal and often fickle, instead of something eternal and always constant. And number four, I wanted to write a number in English.1) Numero Uno: Appearance
The central focus of this question is self. How do I
matter? How would your life change if I
never existed? Now, this doesn't mean that there are no legitimate times to evaluate what kind of impact we are having, whether we are affecting someone's life (and how: in a good way? not so good?) But most times I've been exposed to this inquiry, that was not the underlying intent.
This is not particularly surprising, as our culture is so big on individualism. Individuals are important, but the face in the mirror shouldn't take priority over the faces you don't need a reflection to see. I believe that we should be less focused on how we appear to someone and more focused on how we can and actually are impacting people's lives for the better. Otherwise it is like chasing an 'A' while giving no regard to what knowledge and skills a course is trying to impart. A white-washed tomb looks nice, but is still full of death and decay.2) Nombre Deux: Placement
Placing too much importance on the perceptions and opinions of others elevates people to a higher place than we ought to be. Asking this question indicates that our worth is determined by others, that our significance and importance is determined by those around us, as though humans were possessed of the authority to decide such things about each other.
Again, this is not particularly surprising to me, in a culture that worships science and thought and says that we find purpose within ourselves. Yet so often this same culture tells us who we are and what we're worth by any number of factors including, but not limited to our usefulness, our entertainment value, our appearance, our intelligence, our abilities, and our values and beliefs. God, on the other hand know us inside and out, and created the whole of us, even our soul and our purpose (Psalm 139), therein lies his authority to let us know our worth. Nummer Drei: Foundation
Jesus told a parable about two men who built their own houses. One man built his house upon a rock, on a solid foundation, which withstood the coming storm. The second man built his house on sand, and his house was promptly swept away by the same storm. What is your view of yourself built upon? Is it built on something temporal or subjective? Is it built on someone's opinion (including your own)?
The prudent thing to do is build a house upon a solid foundation, not on one that is subject to change. Likewise, it is unwise to establish ourselves on that which promises nothing, except that it is subject to change and hangs primarily on our performance. Loose. God's word, however, can be relied upon, and does not return to him void. Solid.
Of course, when Jesus shared this illustration, he was talking about how we respond to his words, but it works for our purposes.4) Number Four: The Fix
In the words of Graham Cooke, "You can only change a mindset with a mindset." So instead of seeking to improve your appearance, improve your substance. Instead of placing importance on man's word, place it on God's. Instead of building on what other's say, build on what God says.
Don't pose a question to someone that asks how you impact their life, ask yourself how their life can be impacted, how they can be encouraged and edified. Recognition is one fruit of your labor, but that fruit is not always seen. Recognition is not the only fruit of your labor, nor is it the most important. More important is the growth of your relationship with that person, and the impact you made on an eternal being, on someone whose soul will last forever.
Do read and listen to the voice and the word of God. What does he say you are worth? Here's a hint: you are worth enough for God the Son—the creator of the universe—to leave his power, authority and praise (much deserved, no less) behind to come down and become a man, so that he could die in your place, taking your sin upon himself so that God the Father would pour out his wrath on the Son, so that you could be justified by his righteousness so the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, could dwell in you to lead you to initial, more and greater revelations, experiences, and relationship with the whole person of God.
Don't build your perceptions and ideas of self on the temporal and subjective view of people, but instead on the promises of God. Jesus said that even though heaven and earth will pass away, his words will never never pass away. Eternal. Solid. Lasting. Reliable.
Your foundation should be solid—you shouldn't have to check to make sure that it is still there. Your sources should be reliable—the voice you listen to should be the one with the authority in the matter. Your focus should be outward—make what you are doing line up with what you are saying.Where do you look to find your worth? Do you wonder if people would miss you if you were no longer around? Where should we find our worth?