A Wisconsin man who claims to have eaten more than 20,000 Big Mac sandwiches wrote a book about his habit. He attracted a lot of attention for simply consuming one Big Mac every day from May 17, 1972 until now. But all the time the man has devoted to his efforts hasn't helped anyone but himself. If he had used the passion and dedication he spent on eating hamburgers to serve others instead, he'd have much more to show for it than a full stomach and a pile of old receipts.

You don't have to consume thousands of burgers to be known.  Everyone is known for something in their lives.  The question is, what will you be known for?  Will it be for what you consume, or what you contribute?

Our consumer culture constantly bombards you with pressure to spend more time buying products and services to consume.  But above the noise of the culture, you may hear a quiet Voice speaking a different message to you.  That voice - the voice of God - calls you to use your time to contribute to the world.

God has a mission for you, and it's a much better use of your time than just eating or shopping. The mission?  Spreading the Gospel message, as the resurrected Jesus called His disciples to do in Matthew 28:19-20: "… Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."  This mission, which has come to be called the Great Commission, is the greatest cause to which you can devote yourself, because it's the only one that will ultimately matter.

When you devote your life to it, everything you do takes on eternal significance.   Here are seven ways to connect your life to the most important mission of all: 

Live as someone who has been called, not just saved.  God has saved you not just to spend an eternity with Him in heaven, but also to make a positive difference on earth.  Every situation and every person you encounter presents a fresh opportunity to live out your God-given calling.  Let your gratitude for the salvation God has given you motivate you to reach out to others who need salvation.  Be as active as you can in serving as God calls you to serve.  Every day, invest your time and energy into what matters most and don't let lesser pursuits distract you from what's most important. 

Find your purpose.  Set out to understand more about God's kingdom and the unique part you're meant to play in it.  Ask God to help you see yourself as He sees you, and trust God to empower you to do what He is calling you to do. 

Surrender your own agenda to God and pursue His plans for your life.  Base all your decisions on what's most important to God rather than just on what seems like a good idea to you.  Once your own vision aligns with God's mission, you'll actually have the power to accomplish much more than you could ever imagine.   Live beyond your personal desires by surrendering your will daily to God.

Discover, develop, and fully use your natural talents and spiritual gifts.  No matter what you're especially good at doing - comforting hurting people, working with numbers, creating art, etc. - decide to do it for God's glory as often as you can.  Don't underestimate the power of your abilities.  Seize each opportunity God presents to use them and look forward to what God will do as a result.  Pray for God to use your work as a conduit through which to pour His love into people's lives and draw them into saving relationships with Him.

Use your time well.  Every day, freshly devote yourself to the mission.  Recognize that each new day is a gift from God that is valuable in shaping your destiny and contributions to the world.  Remain committed to fulfilling God's purpose in your life in all circumstances, trusting Him to help you along the way. 

Use your money well.  Before you buy any new product or service, ask yourself honestly whether or not you really need it.  If not, pray for the strength to resist buying it so you can have more money available to give as God leads you.  Be generous when you give and wise when you invest, so you won't squander any of the potential you have to achieve great results for God's kingdom with your money. Remember that God is the one who has given you the ability to earn money; thank Him by managing it as well as you possibly can. 

Refuse to give in to the culture's pressure to compromise.  Remind yourself often of your mission to be an agent of positive change in the world, shining God's light into dark places.  Get to know the Bible well, letting its truths soak into your soul so they'll be there when you need them for encouragement.  Pray often for the Holy Spirit to renew your mind so you'll be thinking according to truth instead of the world's confused patterns.

So, what do you want to be known for in life?  Will it be for wearing fashionable clothes, filling your house with the latest gadgets, or eating well (even if you don't consume a burger every day)?  Or will it be for making the most of your time by joining your life to God's mission in the world?

You've got choices on life's value menu.  So decide today to build a legacy - not of consumption, but of contribution.  Then, when you meet your Savior face to face, you'll have the joy of hearing Him say what the master in one of His parables said to a man who used his time and treasure well: "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:21).

Publication date: May 25, 2010