Irrelevant. Longman’s Dictionary defines irrelevant as “not useful or not relating to a particular situation, and therefore not important.” I think one of the worst feelings and greatest fears we have in life is being considered irrelevant. It’s the feeling that whether I’m here or not doesn’t really make a difference to anyone. Or that what I do, my job, or even my contributions to a conversation aren’t considered of any real interest, value, or importance.
The best example of how to make someone feel relevant is my wife’s grandma. Wendy treasured the times she would get to go visit because Grandma always made her feel like she was someone special; that she really mattered. Grandma had a special Mennonite name that she would call Wendy. She would say “Scheen Wendy” (pronounced “shina”), which means lovely, or beautiful. The power of someone intentionally taking time to show and say that she was beautiful has had a lifelong impact on Wendy.
In the Bible we get a picture of this in Mark 10:13 where the disciples were shooing away parents who wanted to bring their children to see Jesus. In the disciples minds these little ones were not important to the job at hand. After all what could they possibly contribute?
But Jesus said in essence, “Don’t ever stand between children and me. There is no one more important than these children.” Imagine the impact that hearing the most popular man in town say that would have had on these kids.
Two things to take from this. First, what message are you sending to the children in your life? Are they hearing that they are only relevant when they have achieved some level of success? You have the power to profoundly impact the life of a child simply by stopping to listen and pay attention to them; to communicate that they are as important and special as anyone else in your life.
Second, is to realize that this is the way God sees you; as worthwhile spending time with. And he will always take the time. But here’s the thing, Jesus went on to say that unless you come to him with the same attitude as a little child you won’t get into the kingdom of heaven. In other words Jesus’ acceptance of you as worthwhile isn’t based on what you achieve, or accomplish. It is simple trust and dependence on what he has done for you.
You are relevant and important and what you do has eternal value and worth. But it needs to flow from a place of dependence on what Jesus does in you and through you.