Young men are driven to conquer: school, the woman, business, a sport or task. Some men even conquer their food when they eat! Young men want to conquer. Why? To conquer is to succeed but somewhere along the way young men grow older and come to realize that significance means more than success. Let me explain.
I would contend that young men and women are striving for SUCCESS but as they get older their striving for success turns to searching for SIGNIFICANCE (men) and searching for SECURITY (women).
Men, Success, and Significance
Definition of Success (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) is obtaining "a favorable or desired outcome." In our world success is measured by the Big 3: FAME, POWER, WEALTH. There is a synergistic relationship of the Big 3, fame gives wealth which gives power. Power gives wealth and fame. You get the idea. We can attain the Big 3 through personal achievement and conquering. Attained by personal accomplishments but also weighed on the scales of public opinion. The goal is to be remembered in this life.
Definition of Significance (Merriam-Webster Dictionary): “the quality of being important. To count, matter.” Success for young men gives way to significance as they get older. Significance is measured by the importance of a life, a life that is remembered. We won’t know if our lives were truly significant until after we’re dead. The goal of significance is to be remembered after this life by future generations.
How does the world attempt to gain lasting significance? It attempts to gain significance through naming things such as: buildings (Foshay Tower, Trump Tower), businesses/products (J. C. Penny, Culver’s, Ford Motor Co., Polo-Ralph Lauren), streets (Olson Memorial Drive, Erickson Road, Kirby Puckett Way), awards/prizes/contests (Lombardi Trophy, Bob Hope Classic, Nobel Peace Prize, Pulitzer Prize), religions (church building name, sainthood [Mother Theresa], Russellites [Jehovah's Witnesses), money (Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson), holidays (President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Guy Fawkes Day), history (Hitler, Stalin, Edison, Madame Currie), positions (President, CEO, Chairman of the Board). The temptation is to make yourself significant through your own efforts.
Root fear of the world and why significance is so important is that after we die we fear we will be forgotten, never to have mattered.
In contrast to the world's relentless striving is God’s way to find significance. God says your significance is in Jesus Christ; God esteemed Christ as significant because of His obedience to go to the Cross. The resurrection of Jesus is God’s seal of approval on Christ’s significance. If we are in Him we are significant. Both Colossians 2:13, 14, 3:3, 4 and Galatians 2:20 affirm that truth. Significance in God's eyes is measured by our standing, whether we are in Christ or not in Christ (Romans 5:1, 2).
How do we attain significance with God? Not through human achievement or works but solely by faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8, 9). God, not the court of public opinion, declares your life significant (Matthew 25:21--God’s “Well done!”). The goal is to lose our life only to find it in Christ (Luke 9:24). We are significant to God because of Christ. It is through no efforts of our own. Because you are in Christ: You are forgiven of all your sins (1 John 1:7), You have eternal life right now (John 20:31, 1 John 5:13), You will rule over the new earth (Revelation 5:10, 22:5), Your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27), You have a new name (Revelation 2:17), You inherit heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:27). Now that's significance!
Women, Success, and Security
While men move from striving for success to searching for significance as they age, women move from striving for success to needing security as they age. What is the definition of security? Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it this way: security is “the quality or state of being secure: as a : freedom from danger, b : freedom from fear or anxiety. Safe”
Women have a deep-seated need for security. Men are to protect women because they are the “weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7). Because they bear children women are more vulnerable to predators, hence men are hard-wired to protect them (Genesis 3:4, 5, 16, 1 Peter 3:7). Women need men to be their “covering” (i.e. protection) for them (Psalm 91:4, Ruth 3:9).
How do women find security in our world today? They try to find it in a variety of ways. Some try Feminism where, as Gloria Steinem famously said, "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." The goal of feminism is complete independence and autonomy for women. Often women try to find security through their beauty. Women strive to appear beautiful to win a man. Why? So he will provide, protect, and give them security. Others go the route of the BIG 3, looking for security in the same way men look for success namely, the BIG 3. The thinking is, "if I have the BIG 3 then I will feel secure." For some security is found through a strong body and a tough attitude—nobody can hurt me. The temptation is to make yourself secure through your own efforts or through a man.
As I mentioned, success for young women gives way to security as they age. What's the root fear behind this deep desire to feel secure? It's the fear that I will be hurt or die alone. Divorce attacks a woman’s sense of security. It leaves her alone, unprotected, and thrust upon her own resources. Anything that threatens her security will draw a reaction often profound. When a married man or one in a committed relationship looks, flirts, or even jokes with another woman, he threatens her sense of security and is liable to hear about it from her.
What does security mean to a married woman? It means that: the basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter are being met, the bills are paid, her family is safe from harm, her husband is faithful to her and is her defender if she should be attacked (Genesis 3:6)
What is God’s way for women to find security? He declares that their security is in Jesus Christ. Ladies, Christ alone is your security, not your husband, your children, your bank account, your health (Hebrews 6:19, 20). God promises security to those who trust Him (Psalm 30:6, Jeremiah 30:10). Real security for a woman is measured by her willingness to trust the Lord, not her husband, regardless of her circumstances (1 Peter 3:1, 5, 6).
For those of you who are married, how are you doing at helping your wife to feel secure? Does she feel secure in your love? Does she feel financially secure in these tough economic times? Is her environment secure? Are you there for her as her knight in shining armor to defend and protect her or does she have to fend for herself because you aren’t around or no one ever told you that protecting her is your responsibility?
Finally, is Christ REALLY your source of significance or are you looking at your bank balances, stock/bond holdings, real estate acquisitions, or other “stuff” for your significance? All of that is perishable and you leave it all behind when you die. Christ alone is your claim to fame. Nothing and no one else.