Everyone has an internal need to feel significant, to feel that they matter. We want to matter to our parents, our partners, our teachers, our children, our employer, our community and even sometimes to a stranger.
We want to have worth to someone and a reason for our existence. We need value placed on us for why we were born and why we continue living here on earth. We need some sort of self-worth, a reason for us to consider ourselves of some importance.
Most of us spend our lives looking for self-worth. We look to our performance and ability to please others hoping we stack up enough points to matter. Matter to someone: a boss, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a spouse, a friend, a parent, a superior, a crowd, a loved one. We want to do enough good that someone might take notice and give their approval. Then we can say we are worth something. Our existence here is worth something.
We can spend a lifetime trying to gain worth. We work our way up in a job to gain power and prestige. We chase after money to gain importance and success. We meet the love of our life and assume they will meet every need. We pursue the noble quest of knowledge and achieve a certificate that will say we are accomplished. We strive for performance to be good at something or important in someone’s eyes.
When all else fails, we create every kind of affirmation self-help that will tell us we have worth. Just like the Stuart Smalley character that Al Franken created on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s, we look in the mirror and try telling ourselves, “Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and dog-gone-it, people like me.”
Truth be told, you can repeat an affirmation to yourself but if you don’t believe it in your heart it won’t stick.
Finding our significance and our self-worth in how well we perform or make others like us is destined to fail at some juncture. No one performs perfectly. It stands to reason that failure will find us as some point in life.
At some point, the job you are great at will fail to give you success. At some point your importance will lack. At some point, the people you look to for approval will fail you. Circumstances change, people aren’t perfect. Life does what it does and fails to meet our needs and expectations.
We all have a God given need for love, acceptance and purpose. So what do we do to meet our need for significance if performance and pleasing others won’t ultimately do that?
We look to the one who made us and has already given us significance in the first place. Our worth to God has already been freely and conclusively given. He created man as the final glorious showcase of His own character. In all of creation, nothing else compares to man.
We are created in the image and likeness of God. If we want to understand our own importance, we need only to open up the Bible. Just as a great painting reflects the greatness of the artist, we are a great masterpiece that should reflect to greatness of God.
Sherri Watt is the president and co-founder of non-profit ministry Restoration Road in Lees Summit. You can reach her at sherri@restorationroadk c.org.