It’s that time of year when graduations begin to happen in abundance. Hopes and dreams abound as young adults transition from a life punctuated by their time in educational institutions to the “real world.” Speech after speech will encourage them to pursue their dreams, to make the most of the skills and knowledge they have been given to accomplish their goals.
Many of them however, will confuse accomplishment with something far greater – significance. They will think that the higher they rise, the more impact that they are having. Checking off their “bucket list” will be the prize; getting the things that they have dreamed of – the family, job, house and prestige – are considered their marks of success. They neglect to realize that the measure of their life isn’t the goals that they have achieved, but the difference that they have made for the Kingdom of God. The accomplishments of this life shouldn’t be their pursuit; instead they should be focused on the significance they will have in eternity. Real success is measured by what their Heavenly Father says, not pundits and friends.
This struck home recently as I read a eulogy of Chuck Colson, the evangelical leader who passed away over a week ago. Michael Gerson wrote “Chuck’s swift journey from the White House to a penitentiary ended a life of accomplishment — only to begin a life of significance.” Colson had accomplished much in his younger years according to an earthly perspective, but it was his fall from grace that ended up being the impetus for what really mattered in his life. He may have had great influence as a young political operative, but he had great significance as he worked to be Christ’s hands and feet to inmates and their families.
D.L. Moody understood this difference too. When his granddaughter was born, he telegraphed his congratulations with these words:
““[I am] thankful for the good news. May she become famous in the kingdom of Heaven. [That] is the prayer of her grandfather!”
And the prayer of every one who desires a life of significance.