While you ponder Lance’s enticement to dig into Grace-based parenting with Dr. Kimmel, and still puzzle over his challenge to the American mantra, "success," ponder along with me a related subject: The value of significance compared to success. It would be a story of my journey. I'd better do this in two parts. I tell you from experience—which I will related in detail in a couple of days—that the difference is vast, life-shaping, eternity framing. This post is timely if late. My laptop crashed on the Friday of my normal LegacyDad post. This month we want to set before you that mysterious, though huge, difference between concentrating on raising children who will become successful or on children who will be significant. Impressive and well-off vs world-and-eternity changers.
Sound a bit heavy? ‘Tis. That’s because, dad, if your son or daughter does not pick up the difference by hearing and watching you and their mother, the distinction is likely to be lost. The hallmark of full American achievment is found in one word that is underscored and highlighted and set in bold type by the Millennial and post-Millennial generations that identify your children. That word: “SUCCESS”. “Stand aside, watch ME go!”
Dad, you MUST get this right. I had success. I was the quintessential model. I didn’t catch on to investing my life in significance until I was 50. Not too late. Better I’d grasped the difference earlier.
My own dad was my reference point. He rose to the top of US Steel (notice how significant that company is now). He failed in four of his five marriages. He was successful. He was a failure as a dad(x two) and husband (x four). This man died leaving no mark. He was not the finger in the dike. He was the finger pulled from the ocean. No lasting difference. But, he lived well, lived insignificantly. He was successful and didn’t keep up his child support. I remember his strut, but I remember very few of his words and I eschew his model.
As if that weren’t enough to ponder, here is something I wrote, commenting on a writer’s blog:
[Regarding her review of a book elevating significance in the workplace vice success on its ladder] (Your observations were) “Fascinating and germane to a long chat today with a life-long missionary. Significance trumps "success". The one reverberates outward the other too often disintegrates inward. He was beginning an auto-bio and wondered how that differs from a memoir. He doesn't want a "successful" book, but wants it to linger on lives.”
YOUR TURN: Use one or two of those 1440 minutes God gave you today to take a deep breath and identify the difference between success and signficance. Now, what are you going to do to apply it to your fatherhood? Generations from now, your legacy may only amount to a faded photo of a successful man...or they will call you blessed? Now THAT is signficant.