Standard of Living, Self-Actualization, or Significance?


Truly great men and women are respected because of their willingness to give themselves to people and purposes that will live beyond them.

Truly great men and women are not acclaimed because of what they own and earn. Nor are they admired merely on account of their talents or level of professional performance. Rather, they’re respected because of their willingness to give themselves to people and purposes that will live beyond them.

Some people don’t even dare to dream. The unstated goal of their daily routine is simply to stay afloat. Everyone goes through seasons during which they fight just to keep their heads above water. However, people with a survival mentality continually tread water without ever going anywhere.

Others buy into the American dream. They are motivated by external rewards—a nice car, a spacious home, and a well-paying job. They prize security and a steadily increasing standard of living. Adopting a mentality of material success, they measure accomplishment primarily in terms of their net worth.

Still others have a mentality of self-actualization. They seek personal fulfillment over and above professional stability. They look to identify their talents and to sharpen their strengths, and they search for work that allows them to do what they love.

Obviously, everyone must meet a set of basic needs in order to survive. And, there’s certainly nothing wrong with working toward material security and self-actualization. However, if your dream doesn’t somehow transcend your self, then it will always be somewhat shallow and insignificant.

As Woodrow Wilson stated, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

The mysterious beauty of selfless service is that it returns benefits to those who charitably spend themselves on behalf of others.

“One man gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

~ Proverbs 11:24, 25

Question to Consider
In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" Reassess your dream by asking, “Who will benefit the most when it comes true?” If the answer revolves around you, then you still have some thinking to do in order to stretch your dream from selfishness to significance.


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