Edgar Z. Friedenberg (1921-2000) was a scholar of education and gender studies best known for his books: The Vanishing Adolescent( 1959), and Coming of Age in America (1965). This latter book was a finalist for the 1966 National Book Award for Nonfiction. On one occasion, Friedenberg told his audience, “What we must decide is perhaps how we are valuable, rather than how valuable we are.”
While speaking to a group of young people who came to the Philippines for missions training, I told them that people at their stage in life strive to be successful. But being successful only means that a person has reached a goal, they not only met the standards but exceeded them. As such, they become a role model for others behind them to emulate in order to be determined as being successful.
But we must ask the question, could the company they worked for succeeded without them? Were there others that easily could have taken their place? We can use this to show the contrast between being successful and being significant. Being significant means that you carry something in your life and attitude that has a special or hidden meaning. Sometimes no one can put their finger on it, they just know you have something that makes you different in a positive way. Once they meet you or work with you they’re never the same. You touch something in their psychic that alters their point of view and changes their attitude.
This is where born again Christians have an advantage. At work, school, home, or in public there is something about the way you carry yourself, the way you talk and express yourself, the smile on your face that tells them you have something they don’t have. Hopefully, they will become curious enough to ask. That’s when you can let your light shine even brighter when you tell them that you are a child of the Living God; that Jesus Christ is your personal friend because he saved you from going to ruin to being of value to Him.
So instead of simply trying to be successful as others may judge you to be, try to be significant so that they will recognize that something special in your life. As Friedenberg said, rather than trying to prove how valuable you are to the team, decide why you are so valuable. This not only goes for a workplace or team but for one’s family, friends, church, country, and God. – Dr. Robert R Seyda