The central goal of Crucible Leadership is to help you embrace your crucible moments to lead a life of significance. But what is a life of significance? How will we know when we get there, when we are fully living a life of significance?
A life of significance is about more than career, and more than success. It is not about being wealthy enough to live a life of ease.
Is it about leaving a legacy? In part. A life of significance is about being all that you are and living up to everything you believe in. It is about combining your innate wiring and design with your passions to achieve something beyond yourself. It is not about you. It is about contributing to a higher purpose. It is about feeling called to a purpose, to a cause, that is important, that is beyond you. People of faith might term this, a calling that lines up with who God created them to be. You hear such people say they feel that it is God’s calling on their life. There is a sense of the eternal, that you are part of a great movement.
William Wilberforce certainly led a life of significance. He was a British politician who lived in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Wilberforce had an abiding faith that led him to advocate for the abolition of the slave trade and ultimately of slavery itself in the British Empire. The slave trade was abolished in 1807, while it took until days before Wilberforce’s death for slavery to be abolished in the British Empire in 1833. Wilberforce devoted his whole life to the cause of the abolition of slavery. He was an outgoing and charismatic politician, who was a good speaker. He could have achieved high office, either in the Cabinet or perhaps as Prime Minister. But Wilberforce felt leading a life of significance was about more than some political office. To Wilberforce, abolishing slavery was more important than high political office.
John Fairfax, my great great grandfather, led a life of significance as well. A key crucible moment came in 1836, when a local lawyer sued John Fairfax for an article written in John Fairfax’s paper in Leamington, England. Twice the lawyer sued, and twice the court ruled in John Fairfax’s favor. However, the court costs forced John Fairfax into bankruptcy. John Fairfax left England and took his family to Australia. There he bought a local paper, the Sydney Morning Herald, which became part of a large family media company. John Fairfax had a vision of a newspaper that would be vigorous and non-sectarian. As one biographer put it, “It would be without the reproach of self-interest, sworn to no master.” John Fairfax was a successful businessman and a beloved employer. He was an elder in his church. He was a much loved husband and father. John Fairfax led a life of significance in all areas of life, at work, in church and at home.
William Wilberforce and John Fairfax undeniably led lives of significance. They undoubtedly felt they had a higher calling beyond success, fame or career.
They give us models of some of the core themes of a life of significance. It is about the cause or the calling, not about you. It is not about wealth or fame, it is about leading a life that is beyond your own interests. It involves somehow making a difference in the lives of others. Not many of us will live lives that are as prominent as William Wilberforce or John Fairfax. But well known or not, a life of significance can have a greater impact than we realize.
What is your calling?
What would it look like for you to lead a life of significance, to pursue a calling that is beyond yourself?