Dr. Jerry N. Duncan Guest Columnist
Ada — Robert McGee’s The Search for Significance has been out now since 1987. Of all the books that I recommend to clients, this one gets recommended the most. At one time, our office ordered this book by the case for our clients. Several churches in the Tulsa metro area are offering Search for Significance study groups. I also know of several churches who used the adult and the adolescent versions of this book for their Sunday Bible study time.
Billy Graham says, “The Search for Significance should be read by every Christian.” What makes this book so valuable? I believe the value of this book is in its message. It addresses one of the the most basic core issues of many mental illnesses. It addresses one of the most basic core issues of problems in relationships.
The issue is self-worth. A theorist by the name of Sullivan defines man and his development of personality as man being born feeling inferior and spending the rest of his life trying to feel superior. William Glasser, in his book Reality Therapy, believes man has only two needs, to love and be loved, and to feel worthwhile to himself and others.
The dilemma described by McGee is that we grow up in a culture and society that teaches us that our value and self-worth are based on achievement, accomplishment and the approval of others. This belief makes us driven individuals, willing to sacrifice our mental and physical health, and our families, if necessary, to be considered valuable and acceptable to others.
Sometimes, I believe, we have even promoted this kind of thinking in our congregations with an emphasis on works vs. Grace as a basis for a “right” relationship with God, or as a basis for determining if there is enough “fruit” to validate whether a person is a Christian or not.
So, how is the “Search” going?
Better, I think. More and more individuals are being introduced to defining their worth by who they are because of what Christ has done for them, rather than by what they do or who approves of them.
Teaching this new definition of worth because of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ should be our mission as believers and as helpers. How can this best be accomplished?
The process has already begun. As I mentioned in the first part of this newsletter, many are becoming acquainted with the practical application of Scripture to value and self-worth through McGee’s writings.
I believe we can help this process along. We need more churches that are teaching these truths to their members in a Sunday morning Bible study format.
We also need more churches willing to develop study/support groups for their members, and as an outreach to individuals in the community.
Dawson McAllister has co-written a version of The Search for Significance for teenagers that is excellent.
If you think you or your church would be interested in developing opportunites for your congregation to learn these truths, or would like to use it as an outreach to your community, please give us a call and we will put you in touch with churches already doing so.