It is difficult to tell anyone that s/he or they (any formalized group of individuals) are not relevant. Even as I write the words, I can visualize examples of those who were at one time relevant only to be find themselves consigned to the corner of life by their actions. This includes beliefs with weak foundations, behaviors driven by self-defined superiority, and visions determined by looking in one direction. Relevance is more than a popularity vote.
Relevance emerges when people embrace your ideas with the absence of motive or reward. While it is easier to see it in the rear view mirror, there are important questions one can wrestle with in the present if one hopes to be relevant.
Relevance starts as one looks and sees life through the eyes of others as it is. The contrast is often on display, talking to audiences that have left long ago and serving others in ways defined by individuals not needing the help. The contrasting examples lead to the rhetorical questions posed long ago; “Are the dead a live audience for your miracles? Do ghosts ever join the choirs that praise you?” (Psalm 88.10)
Relevance grows when the intent of one’s words and actions is noble. Nobility includes motives to help the community, inspired action to correct injustice and stand up for those that cannot stand for themselves, and living unselfishly. While it may seem hard to measure, there is validity to be found as others embrace one’s words and actions as models for their journey.
Relevance is always evolving. As we grow in our understanding and perspectives, the ways we relate and act change. One should never presume that the present is superior to the past, relevance simply means that one is connected to others in the present. As a result, compassion is a constant that finds new forms of expression. Other constants find new vehicles; communities are now virtual and real and events that were historically local not often go virally global.
Relevance is life’s salt. When it is present, life’s best always gets more so.