March 2, 2000
Finding a genuine sense of significance in Christ was the key that Claude Thomas, pastor of First Baptist Church, Euless, Texas, and former pastor of Council Road Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, told students would open doors to their future and guarantee them success. Thomas was the featured speaker in OBU's Wednesday chapel service, March 1.
Examining the human need to feel significant, Thomas spoke from Exodus 3. Through Moses' dialogue with God, he said, we can see the four ways we seek significance that always end in frustration.
The labels for the four ways we seek significance are from Robert McGee's book, "The Search for Significance."
The first is the "performance trap," or the feeling that we must meet certain standards in order to feel good about ourselves. "Moses was telling God, 'That's a standard I might not reach,'" Thomas said.
The second is the "approval trap," or the feeling that we must be approved by others to feel good about ourselves. "Moses said 'I don't feel like I'm someone who can tackle something like that. They might reject me,'" he said.
Another way we seek significance is through the blame game, which leads to the fear of punishment, he said.
The fourth way that Thomas mentioned is the shame game, which leads to embarrassment with ourselves.
"You and I cannot continue to find significance in approval, achievement, or accumulation," he said. "Our enemy, the devil, wants us to believe that if we can just achieve a little more, we'll be satisfied. The devil gets us into a syndrome, a failure syndrome. He puts us on a treadmill that we can't get off.
"But there's great news for us today. You don't find significance that way and we don't even have to seek it."
If anyone could have been set up for success by his environment and education, it was Moses, he said.
"Moses grew up in a prince's home," he said. "He had the best education. Yet before he could come to grips with who he was and his significance, he was stripped of everything. God said to him, 'Your significance is not found in those things. I want to take you down the road of life and show you where you can find genuine significance.'"
Significance in its purest form is relational, he said.
"Our sense of genuine significance is tied to a relationship, and not just any relationship will do. We must find significance in one who stays with us, regardless.
"When Moses needed to be reassured, God said, 'I will be with you.'"
When we question our importance to God, the answer comes in a clear voice, Thomas said.
"God says, 'You - just like you are - you are somebody special to me,'" Thomas said. "Find your significance in your relationship with God and all others will have significance in your life."
Thomas' church has experienced rapid growth and is now one of the nation's largest churches with more than 10,000 members.
Thomas has served on executive boards of Kentucky and Texas Baptist State Conventions. He has been on the board of directors of Southeastern Kentucky Baptist Hospital and of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
He is presently serving as chairman of the executive board of the Southern Baptist Convention and was president of the SBC pastor's conference in 1998.