Last weekend I met someone who has literally changed the world. About forty years ago he helped to develop the vaccine that eliminated a life-threatening childhood disease. If you grew up in America you didn’t get this disease because of this man’s vaccine. He has been a pioneer and leader in infectious disease control ever since. There are medical protocols named after him.
I met him in my neighbor’s kitchen, at her birthday party. In his eighties, he is still at work, shaping the public policy that saves the lives of children all over the world. Of course, he doesn’t present himself as a medical hero. He was just there to celebrate a colleague’s birthday. We warmly chatted about favorite vacation places, our children, and ACC basketball.
When I went home I found myself thinking about him, about the singular impact his life has had on the world. There is a signature to his life. He will forever be known by what he has done and is doing to save the life of children.
I begin wondering what might be the signature impact of my life. Perhaps it was a neurotic, even narcissistic thought to go in that direction, even to imagine that I, and all of us have a signature opportunity in life. Perhaps our abilities and talents are too modest for that.
I shared this thought with a couple of guys who immediately took it as a suggestion that their life wasn’t measuring up, not counting for something, that they were wasting their life. It was over breakfast. They weren’t inspired. They just said, “Thanks a lot for ruining a good breakfast.”
But, it seemed like a good question, “What’s the signature of my life?” I’m sure that all jobs don’t line up well for signature potential, but, nonetheless, anyone created in the image of God can do something that matters, even if work does not provide the place for that.
For me, it may be an issue of focusing, clarifying what God has called me to do, changing just a little part of the world that God has placed me in.
I know this, I don’t want my tombstone to say:
Mark D. Acuff
He meant to.
What about you? Where does God want your life to count?