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Posted May 23, 2016:
Are You An Important Person?
Christian Century magazine publisher, Peter Marty, related a story
about the long-time, now retired Michigan congressman, Ron Dingell.
Dingell was coaching a new congress member, Ron Kind, from
Dingell told Kind, “Ron, never forget that you’ve got an important
job, but you’re not an important person. The second you start
thinking that you’re an important person, you start to cut corners
and think the rules don’t apply to you.”
I liked that advice, and the distinction between having important
work to do but not thinking you are an important person. People do
fall in love with themselves and come to think they are “important,”
even essential or irreplaceable. And the result, as Dingell says, is
not good. Eventually, such foolishness and arrogance catch up with a
I have seen this with some clergy, usually pastors of large
churches. I have felt the temptation myself. Beware of thinking of
yourself as “important.”
In another sense, of course, each of us is important. And the maxim
might be different for those who are in less-heralded and
less-visible positions. People in those spots may suffer a different
temptation, to believe that they are insignificant, that their lives
and actions do not matter. I tend to think, and experience confirms,
that what we do makes a lot more difference than we think, whether
for good or ill.
At any rate, those whom the world counts “important,” are surely
wise to heed Dingell’s advice and not get too wrapped up in their
own significance. Their temptation is pride.
But those whom the world counts insignificant and lowly, to ring
changes on a theme of the Apostle Paul, may be wise to know that God
often counts as important and significant that which the world does
not. Their temptation is not pride, but despair.
Are you important? Yes, and no.