Safe or Significant?

In his talk “Just Courage: Charging the Darkness” (Global Leadership Summit 2008), International Justice Mission (IJM) president Gary Haugen spoke about choices that effective leaders make in the face of difficult tasks. Haugen knew courage amidst difficulties firsthand. IJM rescues the sexually exploited, the enslaved and the oppressed globally. “Dateline NBC” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show” have already featured Haugen and the IJM work.

One of those choices is the decision not to be safe. Being safe and being significant are not one and the same. To be safe is to watch things happen. To be significant is to make it happen. Safety says “Enough. Significance says “Excel.” Always keep in mind that we serve a God who wants us to be significant, not safe. That’s why C.S. Lewis' “The Chronicles of Narnia” depicted Aslan the lion (a symbol of Christ) as good but not safe. He is, after all, “not a tame lion.” God is more concerned with our character than with our comfort. He is the Lord who would call us to “Launch out into the deep” (Luke 5:4, NKJV). He beckons us to be like Peter to step out of the boat and walk on water. In short, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19). Obedience is never safe. But it leads to significance.

People walk around life carrying a sign that says, “Business as usual.” But the significant life is not usual. To paraphrase one of my favorite authors, a significant life is outside the realm of the safe, the predictable and the expected. As a church, we can just go through the motions. Busy as bee yet not having any impact at all in our spheres of influence such as our families, our workplace and our community. We can even be devoted but not make a dent at all. We can start being significant by opening our hearts to people, going beyond the “Kumusta?” (“How are you?") and really listening to the answers. We can go out of our safe zone and start making a difference in others by opening up our schedule to join a small group. We can even host it in our homes. We can invite people to our church. Then, we can invest time in following them up. If we are too busy for people, then we are really too busy. Getting involved with people is not safe. But it’s significant.

Brethren, are we safe or significant?

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