Earning a Footnote

Dan Davidson One of the driving forces throughout my entire life has been a search for significance. I want to leave my mark. I want to be remembered, hopefully in a positive way. I want some claim to eternal fame. I want to know that my life has counted and that those who follow me will be better off because I lived.

And I don't think I am alone. It seems that most of us who follow God's call to ministry (which comes frequently without human recognition) want and need something tangible in our lives that we can point to and say, "I did something worthwhile." In fact, I think all people seek such recognition.

In the midst of the genealogies of Genesis 36, one name stands out: "This is the Anah who discovered the hot springs in the desert while he was grazing the donkeys of his father Zibeon." (Genesis 36:24).

Here is a man who was remembered in the family journals for something he did that was significant. While in the desert grazing donkeys, he discovered something very special and highly valued by nomadic tribes. And so, instead of just being listed for all time beside the names of his father, his father's father and his own sons, Anah has a footnote in the Holy Scriptures. Ultimately, earning that footnote has probably turned out to be more of an accomplishment than finding the hot springs. Anah has done what most of us only dream about in our searches for significance.

In today's world, some people find recognition through success in business, by creating conglomerates named for themselves or by inventing a product everyone needs and loves. Some believe significance comes with the accumulation of great wealth or political power. Many pursue it through worthy causes, like saving whales or field mice. Others channel their efforts into the arts, creating beautiful music, photography or paintings.

Those of us in the pastoral "industry" often seek to make a name for ourselves by writing books, publishing magazine articles or establishing a reputation on the speakers' circuit. Sometimes it occurs just by pastoring a large church, sometimes by pastoring the only little church in town. But for most people, the likeliest mark of significance will be established through the birth, raising and reputations of their children. "Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." (Psalm 127:5).

It would certainly seem to be easier to raise a child who loves God, honors his parents and respects those around him than to discover hot springs in the desert. (I know there are times you parents would disagree.) That would suggest to me that we should be investing substantial time, energy and prayer on our children — much more, in fact, than we do on our ministries, businesses or other worthy endeavors. If more of us did, the negative reputations associated with being a preacher's kid would begin to dissipate, and the positive aspects would be wonderfully trumpeted.

These were the parents of a really great preacher's kid! What a fabulous footnote!

Taken from Pastor to Pastor newsletter, Jul/Aug 1998.
Article copyright © 1998, Focus on the Family.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Rev. Dan Davidson directs the Pastoral Resources and Technology departments in the Pastoral Ministries division at Focus on the Family, which includes serving as editorial director of the Pastor to Pastor audio series, The Pastor's Weekly Briefing e-mail and Web newsletter, The Shepherd's Covenant Encourager e-mail and Web newsletter, and the Parsonage Web site itself. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., with his wife, Luz, and their three sons.