SUCCESS OR SIGNIFICANCE?


Woman sitting on rocks at the ocean at sunriseFor 42 years I worked at a large church in Kentucky, focusing on spiritual formation for adults. When I retired last summer, I felt lost. My church had provided not only a job, but a place that fed me spiritually, provided friendships and was the primary source of my social interactions. To make matters worse, Covid had shut down most of the things I enjoyed doing during my free time and most places weren’t accepting new volunteers during the pandemic.

 

My sister and brother-in-law (Donna and Ricky Creech) suggested I come down to Lake Waccamaw and 2 months later I had sold my house, put my things in storage and was on my way to North Carolina. Ricky then asked if I would serve as the Spiritual Formations Coordinator for the youth at Boys and Girls Homes. While spiritual formation was the focus of my education and long career, I have to admit I was very nervous about working with vulnerable children whose life experiences I cannot begin to comprehend. I wondered if I would be successful in teaching meaningful lessons to the kids and if they would be responsive to me.

 

Around this time, I had started re-reading the book “From Success to Significance: When the Pursuit of Success Isnt Enough” by Lloyd Reeb. One sentence in that book helped me realize I was definitely in the place God wanted me to be at this stage of my life. “For the second half of life to be better than the first, you must make the choice to step outside of the safety of living on autopilot. You must wrestle with who you are, why you believe what you profess to believe about your life, and what you do to provide meaning and structure to your daily activities and relationships.”

 

It dawned on me after a few weeks of leading Bible study and craft time with the children that I don’t need to be “successful “ with them. I simply need to look for opportunities to relate to them in such a way that our time together provides significance. Now, as we talk about scripture stories and topics that are important in life, the children become my teacher and they help me find meaning in my own life. My prayer is that our conversations and activities will impact how they feel about themselves and God, and how they see and experience the world.

 

In addition to serving as Spiritual Formations Coordinator, I have enjoyed volunteering in the Country Store, assisting in field trips, and even painting at the Farm. What I am finding in each of these places is the opportunity to see God at work on this campus through the people that work and serve here. If all of us (staff and volunteers) are successful in accomplishing goals, getting work done, meeting organizational expectations, and even eliciting good behavior from the children, that is fantastic. But “success” is temporary and ends when we finish our work. But if we focus on significance--using our time, talents, words, and actions to serve others and make a lasting impact on their lives, we will truly make a difference in the world, one person at a time.

 

Jennie Weeks is the Spiritual Formations Coordinator, Human Rights Specialist and Volunteer at Boys & Girls Homes of NC.

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