The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God's Eyes

The Search for Significance: Seeing Your True Worth Through God's Eyes

by Robert McGee

Paperback(Revised Edition)

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Discover what two million readers have already discovered: that true significance is found only in Christ.

Robert McGee's best-selling book has helped millions of readers learn how to be free to enjoy Christ's love while no longer basing their self-worth on their accomplishments or the opinions of others. In fact, Billy Graham said that it was a book that "should be read by every Christian."

In this re-launch of this timeless classic you will:

  • Gain new skills for getting off the performance treadmill
  • Discover how four false beliefs have negatively impacted your life
  • Learn how to overcome obstacles that prevent you from experiencing the truth that your self-worth is found only in the love, acceptance, and forgiveness of Christ

Other products in the Search for Significance family of products include a devotional journal and youth edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780849944246
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 07/15/2003
Edition description: Revised Edition
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 58,073
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

ROBERT McGEE is a professional counselor and lecturer who has helped many to experience the love and acceptance of Jesus Christ. McGee is also the founder of Rapha, a nationally recognized health care organization that provides in-hospital and outpatient care with a Christ-centered perspective for adults and adolescents suffering with psychiatric and substance abuse problems. He is currently the President of Search Resources.

Read an Excerpt


By Robert S. McGee Jack Crabtree

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2007 Robert S. McGee with Jack Crabtree
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8499-4446-8

Chapter One


Teenagers have a pretty simple job description-just two major assignments to accomplish and eight years to get them done:

1 Get along and fit in with your peers.

2 Develop your own identity.

The SAT scores, the sports teams, and all the schoolwork are overrated as "critical steps to becoming a teenage success" compared to the lessons you learn in those years between leaving childhood and entering adulthood. The job is simple-find out who you are and how you fit into this messed-up world.

Whoever thought such a simple job could get you into so much trouble? Life was easier when Mom and Dad were calling all the shots. Unless you were a child prodigy at getting your own way, your parents' agenda was your agenda. No questions asked.

But it wasn't a total waste of time. You learned a lot about life by watching them. What you saw and heard became the foundation of what you think about life and who you are as a person today. So before you even signed on to be a teenager, the wet cement in your brain was already starting to dry. You had a pretty good idea about who you were and how life worked by the time you reached double digits. It wasn't all good, but life sure seemed more peaceful and secure as a kid than it did once puberty started changing your body and rocking your world.

Somehow when those growth hormones started streaking through your body, your world began to change. There was no going back. And you will never be the same. It can be a jackhammer time of life-busting up all your assumptions about what is right or wrong, true or false. Your identity is no longer built around your parents. In fact, the thought of growing up to be like them is now one of your biggest fears. You fight for your freedom and blow holes in the protective bubble your parents carefully constructed around you. There is a fresh, unexplored world out there. You want to be part of it.

What your parents don't fill you in on about life you learn from television, movies, and music. If you're like most teens, the amount of time you spend watching and listening to the lessons of love and sex, being cool and looking hot, developing power and attaining success amounts to more than double the time you spend in school. With eyes focused on the screen and ears encased in headphones, the basic expectations of happiness, fulfillment, and the rules of life are embedded into the creases of your brain and deep into your soul.

So, how is it for you so far?

Is life all it's cracked up to be?

Or is something missing?


Mark's senior year is wearing him down. Life has been tense at home. He is waitlisted at the colleges where he applied. So basically he's worked really hard, and some committee decides he is second choice at best. "Second choice" sums up exactly how Mark feels about life. If he doesn't get in, he will never hear the end of it from his dad. You try hard to do the best you can, but your parents and teachers can always find something wrong with you. What you do is never good enough.

Mark's dad is still talking about the bad grades he got his freshman year. He won't let it go. He knew then that Mark would never get into college. These days Mark stays out of the house and hangs with friends. Even with friends, Mark has the feeling that when they leave for college (and he inevitably stays home), they won't stay in touch. All those guys will make new friends. That's a great feeling-they're only your friends until someone better comes along. Second choice again. Isn't life great?

At sixteen, Amanda isn't doing so great. Her mom caught her cutting herself in the bathroom and took her to a therapist for teenage girls. Amanda hates being there-she feels like she's some kind of psycho-case. She's unhappy and depressed about life, like most of her friends at school. What's weird about that?

Her father left years ago. She fights with her mom about her friends, going out, and the clothes she wears. Her mom calls Amanda a sponge because, in her opinion, she just soaks up the attitude and behavior of everybody she's around. That is track #3 on her mom's I'm Really Worried About You greatest hits and lectures CD. She can repeat it back to her mom word for word. As the therapist probes about feelings and missing her father, Amanda puts up the hard shell. Life stinks. Who can change that?

Nobody will ever love me. If people really knew me, they wouldn't like me. I've been a failure all my life. I guess I'll always be a failure. I'll never be able to change. Not even God really cares about me.


People say the years between twelve and twenty are the best years of your life. If these are the best years, then life is a cruel joke. But lots of us have some serious reactions. The young girls starving themselves to be thin are not a joke. The anger boiling over in many young men has school counselors and parents in a major panic. A spirit of depression and hopelessness presses down on young people who don't like themselves or feel like they have no significant place or role in this world.

Some people call it self-esteem. Others say self-worth. Whatever it is-it is the feeling of significance deep inside us that is crucial to our emotional, spiritual, and social stability. Everyone wants to be happy and successful, and to regard himself or herself as a worthwhile human being. What's so bad about that?

The problem is that more and more teenagers are asking, "Is this all there is to life?" They are not happy about being young and living in this world. They don't like being who they are. Happy. Successful. Believe in yourself. It's just hype for a lot of youth today.

Before everyone starts shaking their heads, let's ask ourselves: "Could it be that what we have been told about fulfillment is a lie? That chasing after personal success, status, beauty, wealth, and the approval of others is a dead-end street? Is it possible that we have been told the biggest, boldest lies about what is most important in life?"


The Bible tells us that God created us each individually, and He constantly keeps His eye on us. Do we know we are significant and valuable to God? Jesus said that God knows details like the number of hairs on our head, sees everything we do, and loves us personally and unconditionally. Jesus said that God is not some distant, uninvolved deity but, in fact, wants to know us authentically and have a moment-by-moment relationship with us. Even more remarkable to our modern minds is the fact that this personal God loves us and wants to know when we are mad at Him, messed up by the mistakes of life, or even when we simply don't care anymore. God offers unconditional love and acceptance as the basis for a strong sense of personal self-worth. Can you believe that?


The way you see life right now isn't the way it started. When God created the first people, Adam and Eve, He made them to live in intimate fellowship with Him. Adam and Eve were remarkable, magnificent people made in God's image. They were placed in a perfect environment where all their physical needs were met. They were responsible to oversee paradise with all its vegetation and animals. They knew God and walked and talked with Him. Adam and Eve were perfect in body, mind, and spirit.


Adam and Eve had a visitor in the Garden of Eden who came to destroy what God had given to them. Lucifer (the name means "Morning Star") had been an angel of the highest rank created to glorify God. He was clothed in beauty and power as he served in the presence of God. Sadly, Lucifer's pride caused him to rebel against God. When this happened, he and one-third of all the angels were expelled from heaven.

It was the same Lucifer who came to visit Adam and Eve in the form of a serpent. If he could get Adam and Eve to rebel against God, they would lose their authority and their perfection. They would become slaves to Satan and sin and be under God's wrath and judgment. If this worked, Satan would screw up Adam and Eve's relationship with God and destroy God's great plan for these people He had created.

Jesus called Satan "the father of lies." Satan deceived Eve by getting her to doubt God's honesty and suggesting that she would gain greater power and wisdom apart from God. When she ate the forbidden fruit, she traded God's truth for Satan's lie, believing it would make her become like God. When she offered the same opportunity to Adam, he accepted and turned away from the love and security he had known with God. It was a sad day that changed the future of the world, and the future of all who have been born in the years to follow.


When Adam and Eve did this, they lost their secure status with God and began to struggle with feelings of arrogance, inadequacy, and despair, valuing the opinions of others more than the opinions of God. This robbed Adam of his true self-worth and put him on the continual but fruitless quest for significance through personal success and the approval of others.

As descendants of Adam and Eve, we are born with a sinful nature that rebels against God and attempts to find security and purpose in this world apart from Him. We stand guilty before God and deserve His wrath. Nothing we can do as human beings can pay the penalty for our sins against God.

What are those sins? We could make a long list of specific attitudes and actions. The best overall explanation of sin is that we ignore God (the real God) and act like we are god (not the real god), doing whatever we think is best for us. In the process, we disobey many of the specific commands God has given us. Worst of all, we go through most days without acknowledging that the God who created us is a very real part of our lives. We ignore Him and try our best to take care of life in our own human strength.

The results are predictable. Amanda and Mark and millions of other people have found out how empty life is without God.

In what ways have you turned away from God, and how often?

What experiences have made you feel that life without God was empty?


Just when our situation was hopeless, God acted on our behalf to pay the penalty for all these sins that we have committed by sending His own Son, Jesus Christ, into our world. It was God's plan that Jesus would willingly die on the cross taking the punishment, as if He had committed our sins. This sacrifice made us pure, and nothing demonstrates God's love for us more clearly than His giving Jesus to die for us. Through Christ's death on the cross our relationship with God has been restored. We can experience His nature and character in our life as we live in a spiritual relationship with Him and show His love to the entire world.

Through Jesus Christ we experience the security and significance for which we were created-not just in eternity beyond the death of our human bodies, but here on earth as well. Adam and Eve's sin had tragic consequences on our world and on each one of us, but through God's plan of redemption we can be brought back to God and start our relationship with Him all over again.

God has made it possible for every person to be restored to Him. Jesus clearly explained God's wonderful plan when He told Nicodemus:

God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him.

Getting reconnected to God is not about how you can pay God back for the sins you've committed-you can't. And it's not about what you can do for God or about being a nice person or about giving your money away. That's not ever enough. We can't make ourselves right in God's sight; only our belief and trust in Christ's death and resurrection are sufficient to pay for our sin and separation from God.

Paul wrote about this gift from God:

I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it.

Then he explained to Titus what God did for us:

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior was shown, he saved us because of his mercy. It was not because of good deeds we did to be right with him. He saved us through the washing that made us new people through the Holy Spirit.

If you want to receive God's unconditional love, you can respond by trusting in Christ and accepting His payment for your sins. You can say the words of this prayer to express your faith:

Lord Jesus, I need You. I want You to be my Savior and the Lord of my life. I accept Your death on the cross as the complete payment for my sins. Thank You for forgiving me and for giving me new life. Help me understand Your love and power, so that my life will bring honor to You. Amen.


When you trust Christ, you experience many wonderful changes.

* All your sins are forgiven: past, present, and future.

* You become a child of God.

* You receive eternal life.

* You are delivered from Satan's domain and transferred into the kingdom of Christ. * Christ comes to dwell within you. * You become a new creation. * God declares you righteous.

* You enter into a love relationship with God. * God completely accepts you.


You would think that everyone hearing this good news would run to God and put their faith and trust in what Jesus Christ has done for them. Sadly that is not so. We are extremely stubborn and really quite full of pride. Rather than receive God's unconditional love, we create false gods in our own image when we should be humbling ourselves before the real, living God. This is how Paul describes it:

They knew God, but they did not give glory to God or thank him. Their thinking became useless. Their foolish minds were filled with darkness. They said they were wise, but they became fools. They traded the glory of God who lives forever for the worship of idols made to look like earthly people, birds, animals, and snakes.

God has given us plenty of physical and spiritual evidence to know that He is real:

But since the beginning of the world those things have been easy to understand by what God has made. So people have no excuse for the bad things they do.

We ignore the evidence and only believe what we can understand with our human minds. We make substitute gods to worship and look to them for comfort rather than the real God:

Because they did these things, God left them and let them go their sinful way, wanting only to do evil. As a result, they became full of sexual sin, using their bodies wrongly with each other. They traded the truth of God for a lie. They worshiped and served what had been created instead of the God who created those things, who should be praised forever. Amen.


Excerpted from THE SEARCH FOR SIGNIFICANCE by Robert S. McGee Jack Crabtree Copyright © 2007 by Robert S. McGee with Jack Crabtree. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction by Robert McGee....................ix
Chapter 1: Something's Missing....................1
Chapter 2: The Performance Trap....................19
Chapter 3: Approval Addict....................45
Chapter 4: Blame and Condemnation....................71
Chapter 5: Shame....................99
Chapter 6: The Big Lies....................125
Chapter 7: Motivation and Guilt....................155
Chapter 8: Get Ready for Change....................173
Chapter 9: My Story....................191

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Search for Significance 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was nineteen, alone, and feeling very unworthy of so many things. As a nineteen-year-old wants the same things the rest of humanity wants,, hope, finally found all of that through reading this book. These weren't things I could buy, or gain through ways people usually get them, i.e. working for them in any fashion...yet they were given to me. Give yourself the same -- buy this book.
Beckyluej More than 1 year ago
I love this book because it changed my life. As a child, I was sexually abused, became an alcoholic, drug addict, and many more things. I never knew or understood that I was performance oriented, a people pleaser, and searching for the accolades of man. I no longer do that. This book gave me the tools to truly set me FREE! I no longer live to please man. I understand that "there is nothing I can do to make God love me more, and there is nothing I can do to make Him love me less." I live to please Jesus Christ, who loves me and gave Himself for me.
This is the only book I recommend to wounded people other than scripture. I have been through A LOT in my life, and this book was exactly what I needed to show me THE TRUTH. It is filled with scripture, our behavior patterns, and a journal to help you see your progress. It is not to be taken lightly, or to think that it is a quick fix. It is for those who are truly seeking to change their way of thinking and to be released from the chains they currently live under. I recommend it highly to any and all that need it. I buy more copies of this book than any other, and hand them out all the time. It is truly a life changing book if you will put the time and effort into it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was searching for eternal truths when I stumbled across this book -- not personal significance. But what a happy discovery! It was here I first learned principles both foundational and pertinent to my quest ¿ for instance, that the focus of the Christian life is Christ, not rules and regulations, and that trying to make up for bad deeds with good ones does nothing more than send us into a useless ¿guilt-and-penance spiral.¿
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A life changing novel
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just completed this book. This book is very helpful for somebody that feel's kind of lost and depressed at the moment and trying to find their way. It takes alot of time to faithfully complete this book, so I recommend it to anyone that is serious about completing it. I found this book to be not "overly religous" but has a godly christ like perspective, which suited me perfect!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am reading the book and I have alot of good insights from the is very good and I can't waite to read another.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A must read. This book helps improve self-esteem by showing that there IS someone who loves you unconditionally-God. I even ordered the youth version for my teen!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This Book/Workbook is by far the most enlightening book behind the Bible. Take Mr. McGee's advice, and turn it into action.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nesum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think maybe I would have gotten more out of this book at a certain time in my life. For what it is, it is very good. The theology is mostly good (with some important slips, but overall it is good), and many of the points excellent.I would recommend it to others who are struggling with certain image issues, but for others a summary would work just fine. I liked the focus on Christ here, which puts this book above almost all of its competitors.
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