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Chaplain’s Corner: Finding Significance in Life

    By Rev. Dale Burke. October 24, 2015 - 9:55 pm

think-like-a-leaderI like to challenge my students to think about the future by asking, “If you could peer into the future and write the perfect script for what you’d like to be doing with your life ten or fifteen years from now, what would that script look like?” 

Having that picture in mind can be very useful to us as it anchors us to the future. When anchored to that future we tend to be pulled along in that direction…perhaps a self-fulfilling prophecy! If you did this little exercise, what picture emerges, a life that is successful or a life that is significant?

One can attain a seemingly successful life characterized by wealth, all the toys, and a high position, but that alone doesn’t necessarily mean it is a significant life. Many theologians describe a significant life as one that uses the gifts and talents given by God to make a difference in the lives of others. In this definition you can’t lead a significant life without it being successful. They go hand in hand.

Significance is the essence of success. My current perception is that most university students want to make a difference in their communities as evidenced by much involvement in Make a Difference Day. This year, Make a Difference Day is Saturday, October 27, a national day of community service. It’s a day to celebrate neighbors helping neighbors. It’s a day to work together to improve the lives of others. I believe making a difference leads to significance.

Our culture seems to define success as having it all and doing it all. What would leading a significant life mean to you? Researchers at Michigan State University suggest that persons in their 40s who are able to count their blessings, do challenging things such as volunteering and elevating others, and cultivate friendships, are among the happiest people on the planet. Significance, success, and happiness—can they go hand in hand?  Something to think about!

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