Are You Spending Your Life Pursuing Prominence Or Significance?


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This Sunday morning, I and my family went to her dad’s church where her eldest brother, Kuya Jun, was speaker. He talked about prominence versus significance. I was quite interested because once again my life view had been given further definition.

As my brother-in-law talked, my mind flew off from the church to a high dimension in the Spirit somewhere in my mind where the Lord has been keeping a library full of records of my meditations with Him. I opened files upon files of data which we have searched on together and tested and saved, and finally I got out the one I needed.

I opened the file and there it was. It was encoded and saved about 20 years ago when I and the Lord were discussing about what life really was about. Was it about pursuing a dream or ambition or was it about waiting on the Lord?

Pursuing or waiting? Really, it’s somewhat a mix of both but something very different from how people who pursue prominence would look at it.

If you’re on the side of going after prominence, you’d do both, pursue and wait. You’d pursue greatness while you also wait for more opportunities to grab, often before they can even take form. You always think that God has a great plan for you.

But if you’re on the side of significance, well, you’d also do both, but from an entirely different standpoint. You’d see that God has a great plan, not just for you but something bigger, and you better get in on it. You don’t bother anymore about “God’s plan for you,” but rather his entire plan.

You’d pursue dreams and ambitions–pursue greatness–by waiting on the Lord alone, not waiting for opportunities to grab. There’s a grabbing contest out there and if you join it–and if you’re fast enough–you’d succeed at prominence. People will salute you. You’ll achieve a lot and be recognized.

You’d stand on a pedestal.

But if you wait on the Lord, you may lose prominence. In fact, people will even think you’re a big idiot for not joining the mad rat race. But here’s the benefit–you’d see the true and deeper meaning (or significance) of your life on earth as you wait on God. Your true purpose–God’s real purpose for you. Why you’re in that job or business. Why you’re in that college course or why you’re a college dropout. Why you’re gainfully employed, or have a thriving business, or why you’re jobless or bankrupt at the moment.

In fact, you may not be able to achieve anything significant in the eyes of folks who understand nothing more in life than prominence–who define value only in terms of money, possessions, positions, titles and achievements. But by waiting on the Lord, you will have God’s life perspective and maturity, and nothing else can be more significant.

Job said:

I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. [Job 42.5]

Here’s what I mean. Remember Lot and Abram? When they were about to part ways, Abram let Lot choose first what part of the land to take.

Look what Abram said:

Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left. [Genesis 13]

He gave Lot tremendous opportunity to choose the best of the best in the land, and in that way Lot grabbed valuable opportunities. Lot had the advantage of choosing first. Whatever was left was Abram’s. And look at what Lot saw and grabbed:

Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east.

What a jerk Abram was, some people would probably say. God had given him the advantage already but he simply let it pass. Opportunities like that will never pass you a second time, so grab it the first time.

But you know what Abram wanted? He wanted what God wanted for him. He didn’t entertain what he himself wanted. So he waited only for the Lord. Being like that may not make you great and achieve great things and prominence. You won’t be able to make things happen if you’re like that. But Abram didn’t care one bit. All he wanted was what God wanted.

So when Lot went off to grab what he thought was great opportunity and prominence, the Lord talked to Abram:

The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

If you keep on merely waiting on the Lord all your life, you may be left with nothing but the leftovers of other people, great opportunities meant for you but which other aggressive and “enterprising” people grabbed from you.

Others will think, waiting is not a good business proposition.

But the Lord can turn a bad proposition into a good one, just like that, if you wait on him. Waiting involves great, risky and radical faith. It means you really rely on what is not seen than on what is seen.

Faith is…the assurance of what we do not see. [Hebrews 11.1]

Opportunities are things seen in the material world. But “waiting on the Lord” makes you see what’s invisible in the Spirit realms. It is seen only by people with faith.

By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. [Hebrews 11.27]

People who go after prominence pursue only what they see in the material world. They seek greatness in this world. That’s why many people prefer attending mega churches. But people who wait on God see something else.

If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. [Hebrews 11]

Pursuing significance or meaning in life (or waiting on the Lord) doesn’t always mean you end up a millionaire like Abram did. It may, but sometimes, it means something much better–a more powerful kind of prosperity. You attain happy satisfaction in a simple, quiet life useful to the Lord without having to prove yourself to people. You know your purpose and get to live it out, too. It’s storing up treasures in heaven where moth cannot destroy and thieves cannot steal, said Jesus.

You become a “millionaire” in heaven. Nothing beats that.

Often, prominence is what makes people say, “it’s lonely at the top.” It’s meaningless “success.” It’s what usually results to wrecked marriages and families and the irony of having popularity and riches amid dire, cold, bitter loneliness which a lot of “great” people suffer today. The more they grab and get, the sadder they become.

Finding meaning in the Lord, on the other hand, is what makes us rejoice in the Lord always, regardless of the circumstances.

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