The value of a life is seen in every face.


“Son, your momma’s going to be happy you’re alive.”

“Sir, you don’t know my momma. She’s going to kill me.”

So began the transformation.

Senator Tim Scott, Republican from South Carolina, got a head start in football but a foot forward through business.  By his own admission, teenage rebellion caused the car crash that took him from the playing field to the board room.

He missed most of the football season, which meant any college scholarship opportunities for him dried up. “Not playing football for six or seven weeks was like not breathing for six or seven weeks. It was my life,” Scott says. “I think the good Lord used that in a powerful way to teach me .  .  . that I was so self-absorbed with trying to find me and being popular and being successful that I missed the real value of being significant and not just successful. [1]

Tim Scott reminds us, significance is our focus, not success. 

Here are five problems with so-called “success.”

1. “Success” depends on your definition of “success”.  Who defines what success is?  Could my definition be different than yours?  Are we basing perspective of success on the same criteria?

2. “Success” is a human construct.  We get close to influential people. We get the right credentials. We belong to the right groups. We attend the proper functions. We humans erect success in our image.

3. “Success” is often based on the temporal and external. Heaven may be our destination but we like to evaluate by standards on earth. The eternal and internal are sacrificed for what we see and touch.

4. “Success” is not guaranteed. “If you follow this regimen you will be fit, skinny, beautiful, accepted, popular, live long, and prosper.” Fiction has many faces.

5. “Success” does not come immediately; if at all. Wise practices often lead to productive lives. But the best change is slow. Celebrity status may come quickly but may fade just as fast. Money gained today could be lost tomorrow. Results are not up to us.

Significance, on the other hand, offers five distinctives.

1. Significance is based on a person, not their production.  Materialism born of naturalism wants an answer to the question “What have you done for me lately?”  But the unseen, intrinsic worth of an individual is based on their being, not their doing.

2. Significance satisfies a person’s giftedness.  Everyone has gifts, benefits to bestow on those around them.  Strengths come in a rainbow of colors.  People are born with a purpose.

3. Significance is true no matter what others believe.  People tend to form opinions based on their senses, their experiences.  The life of another human is more important than someone’s point of view of that person.

4. Significance is not dependent upon circumstances.  Homeless on the streets or a world leader followed by body guards does not establish one’s importance.  The value of a life is seen in every face.

5. Significance is born from above, not from within. If we give ourselves meaning, the influence of our life is limited.  We are both finite and fallen. Meaning is derived from our origins, our beginning. 

Senator Tim Scott reminds us that significance trumps success, that people are more important than production.  In his own words,

“I set my life’s mission to positively infect the lives of a billion people with the message of hope.”

Tim Scott: may his tribe increase.

The story of one life can cement truths for every life.  Mark doesn’t care what you look like and is supremely pleased when you acknowledge the same of him.  Dr. Eckel sees significance in the life of every student wherever he teaches.

[1] Michael Warren, “The Tea Partier’s Progress,” The Weekly Standard, 22 April 2013, pp. 20-21.

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  1. Materialism born of naturalism wants an answer to the question “What have you done for me lately?”

    >> Excellent summary.

  2. Thanks for another great article, Dr. Eckel. I think you’ve given us a profound message, one that I agree with. Every human life is significant. Period. Whether the human is an unborn child, a politician, or a janitor–everyone has meaning, purpose, and significance.

  3. Dr. Eckel continues intrigue us with foundational truths that challenge the depth of our world views. The measure of success is insignificant if it lacks focus on God; in fact, success is meaningless without Him! Christ for the believer is the perfect picture of true success; with that standard before us, and the Holy Spirit in us, surely success is in the BLOOD!
    May God continue to guide your hand and bless your heart.

  4. He seems related to you in thought, word and deed! May your tribe increase under the Spirit’s tutelage!

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