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Ordinary People Can Live with Significance

by David DeFord

It’s holiday time—a time when our thoughts rise from our everyday living to higher ideals. Something lifts our sights above the everyday, and helps us focus on our relationships, on our neighbors, and on our fellowman.

The Babe from Bethlehem changed everything. His perfect life, inspiring teachings, and infinite sacrifice has had a profound impact on the world ever since. It was the turning point of human history.

Can ordinary people like us live lives of significance? Can we have profound impacts on others?

I am convinced that every person born to this earth has the seeds of extraordinary significance built into him or her. While our circle of influence may be much smaller than Christ’s, we can lift the lives of those around us. We can have lives filled with deep purpose and meaning.

"There is no passion to be found playing small--in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." -- Nelson Mandela

Our Circles of Influence
Of course most of us can’t have the influence to inspire the world like Nelson Mandela, we can influence our own circles.

Our Families
Some people focus so much on their work or their other passions that they fail to inspire and lift their own families.
  David O. MacKay said,
     “No success can compensate for failure in the home.”

And Harold B. Lee added,
“The most important of the Lord's work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes."

We should all see that our drive to succeed in the world does not keep us at such a distance from our families that we lose our opportunity, or shun our responsibility to teach, love, comfort, nurture, and develop our own family members.

Family is the basic unit of society. Our work at home can effect many generations.

Those Around Us
We have wonderful opportunities everyday to live with significance by influencing those around us. Treating others with respect, kindness, patience, and empathy lifts them and fulfills us. Have you ever been greeted by a store clerk or restaurant worker with enthusiasm and true concern? They communicate to you that they want you to have a good experience. How does that make you feel? It lifts your spirits, gives you positive energy. You can have the same impact on others.

Our Community
Many people want the government to take care of every need for those who require help with healthcare, food, housing, small business loans, and most other humanitarian efforts.

When the government takes away from society the need and the ability to serve our fellowman, we all lose. When we, of our own volition, choose to serve, we choose true and abundant significance.

In spite of the billions of dollars the government spends for the relief of others, there are many needs to be satisfied by ordinary people. Unfortunately, it isn’t especially easy to find out where you can serve.

Here are a few suggestions:

Agencies for the elderly need people to deliver food, perform yard work, shovel snow, run errands, provide transportation, and dozens of other tasks.

Homeless and battered women shelters need painting and other fix-ups, as well as mentors for assisting their clients.

Service clubs, like Rotary, Kiwanis, and Exchange, provide service opportunities throughout the year.

Schools face shrinking budgets and need volunteers to help in their libraries, teachers’ aides, and help with athletics.

Youth programs, like Scouting and athletics, always need positive people to teach and guide our young people.

How to Find Volunteer Opportunities
Check your local phone book in the government pages for elderly care, and your yellow pages under, “Social Service Organizations” and “Youth Athletics.” You can also use the search engines under “Service Clubs.”

Living with Significance
When we look back on our lives, we usually don’t savor our professional achievements as much as we do the impact we have had on the lives of others. We should not be content with our normal work-a-day lives—but see the great potential for positive influence we can have for the people around us.

As we approach the coming year, I challenge you to raise your sights, serve others, and live your life with extraordinary significance!

Selected Quotes

"A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world anxious to bless the whole human race." Joseph Smith

"I heard a man of prominence say the other day, 'I have amended the language of my prayers. Instead of saying, 'Bless the poor and the sick and the needy,' I now say, 'Father, show me how to help the poor and the sick and the needy, and give me resolution to do so.'" Gordon B. Hinckley

"We all have two choices: We can make a living or we can design a life." Jim Rohn

"One person caring about another represents life's greatest value." Jim Rohn

"Set peace of mind as your highest goal and organize your entire life around it." Brian Tracy

"I can't believe that God put us on this earth to be ordinary." Lou Holtz

"Happiness is not the result of circumstance. It is the result of loving others." Lloyd Newell

"To better the lives of others is one of your life's greatest rewards." Captain Len Kaine US Navy (retired)
President Golden Rule Society

"If you would find happiness and joy, lose your life in some noble cause. A worthy purpose must be at the center of every worthy life." Jack H. Goaslind, Jr.

Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes
by Gordon B. Hinckley
In this national bestseller, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley, has created a classic look at the values that can change our world--and how to stand up for them. Drawing on anecdotes from his much-admired life of faith and service, as well as examples from American culture today, he examines ten virtues that have always illuminated the path to a better world: love, honesty, morality, civility, learning, forgiveness and mercy, thrift and industry, gratitude, optimism, and faith. He then shows how the two guardians of virtue--marriage and the family--can keep us on that path, even in difficult times. Standing for Something is an inspiring blueprint for what we all can do--as individuals, as a nation, and as a world community--to rediscover the values and virtues that have historically made us strong and that will lead us to a brighter future.

Way to Be! : 9 Rules For Living the Good Life
by Gordon B. Hinckley
From one of the world's foremost spiritual leaders, an inspiring book that provides young adults and their parents with a game plan for leading a better life. This inspiring, upbeat, life-affirming book shows teenagers and their families how to navigate through the moral minefields of contemporary life and how to truly enjoy the opportunities and blessings that the modern world has to offer. Drawing upon his faith as well as his personal experience, Gordon B. Hinckley provides his readers with a game plan for discovering and embracing the things in life that are valuable and worthwhile. He shows how our lives are shaped by the decisions we make every day about personal behavior -- and he shows how to make the right decisions with the help of nine guiding principles. With its vivid anecdotes, invaluable precepts, and timeless wisdom, Way to Be! will be a source of both inspiration and practical advice for young people everywhere who want to lead better, fuller, more satisfying lives.

The Business of Heart: How Every Day Americans Are Changing the World
by Michael J. Glauser
The Business of Heart features the stories of some of America's top social entrepreneurs. In their own words, these remarkable heroes tell how they have created organizations to address problems of hunger, poverty, health care, violence, housing, and education.

I wish you much success in your desire to make a difference in the world!

David DeFord

To comment on this page, please email ddeford@ordinarypeoplecanwin.com

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