Productive, Session 3: A Guide to Finding Significance

by Danny R. Von Kanel

I don’t want to indulge in the relaxed pleasures of retirement, but I want to significantly impact my world for good. 

significanceIn less than a decade, I will be facing retirement and wondering what to do with my life. I don’t want to view this time of life as Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky did: “The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.” I don’t want to indulge in the relaxed pleasures of retirement, but I want to significantly impact my world for good.

It is important to identify the difference between success and significance. Bob Buford, author of the best-selling Half Time: Moving from Success to Significance, says: “Success means using your knowledge and experience to satisfy yourself. Significance means using your knowledge and experience to change the lives of others.”

As I prepare for retirement, I am learning some lessons on my journey.


I must ask myself, Where is God working? God is continually at work in my world and life. The key is determining where. What is God saying through other people? How has God used me most effectively?

I recently began to shift my ministry goals to encompass more of my writing. Sensing God’s work and presence, I have long felt He is guiding me in this direction. Others have said, “Danny, you do a good job in your writing,” or “You seem so passionate about what you write.” Though still serving a church, I’ve wondered if in coming years God will work in me in a greater way through the printed word.


More affirmation came to me when I began to assess my gifts and strengths. I knew God would use me in a place of significance that best utilizes my giftedness. Though by no means am I a gifted writer, God has blessed me with publishing opportunities, which in turn have opened other avenues to speak or facilitate. With success come doubts: Who am I to think I should pursue this avenue of service for the latter part of my life when my writing is plagued with so many weaknesses? 

God whispered, “Why not you? I have been blessing, haven’t I?” This led me to the question: How can I better prepare myself for this adventure? My skills are always in need of honing; I have yet to master the English language. The more I learn about the written word, the more I realize I have to learn. If I continue to follow God’s leading through training, conferences, and personal study, my skills will be enhanced, further preparing me for my “half-time” journey. But yet, I’m still not sure.


God’s design for me is usually found in areas about which I am most passionate. Music ministry has been, and continues as, my life’s vocation. Though once it consumed my passion, it now flickers in comparison. In a few years, I know the flames of fervor will significantly subside. What am I passionate about today? My writing.

I recently led a “Get Published” seminar at the Natchitoches Parish Library. I received this email from one of the participants:

“I came away from your informative, organized, and inspirational presentation with a renewed zeal for writing. Many thanks for putting forth the effort to assist aspiring writers. It is evident to me that the Lord is using you in this regard. It was also heartwarming to hear the presentation done from a Christian worldview. The conversations I heard as people were leaving were positive. Overall, I believe they were encouraged and pleased that they had learned how to go about submitting their writings to publishers. Just think, Danny, you have encouraged and equipped all those people to get published!”

God’s design for me is usually found in areas about which I am most passionate. 

Those who know me well know that public speaking is not one of my strengths. But for this experience and others like it, passion for the subject spilled over, reaping results that surprised me. This leads to the final proof of God’s will in a half-time decision.


The email about my leading the “Get Published” seminar came from a godly lady. It came unrequested but solidified my inclination that this is indeed where God is leading. Though other affirmations have followed, I will continue to probe godly men and women for their counsel. I believe God is leading me to a place where I will be happier, more fulfilled, significantly blessed, and able to touch my world for Christ.

The latter part of our lives can be lived with meaning. We can find where we best belong by acknowledging God’s presence in the process, assessing strengths, appraising passions, and asking confirmation. I, along with Dale Dawson, Dick Gygi (see sidebar), and many others, have done so. May you, too, find significance in your search.

Danny R. Von Kanel is a freelance writer with hundreds of published articles and two books. Von Kanel teaches school in Natchitosis, La. He has five grandchildren and enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with family. 

mature living 0913This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of Mature Living. Subscribe! 

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