Leaving a Legacy
Chuck Allen, Lead Pastor
Tripp Atkinson, Student Pastor
Most of us don’t start out with the end of our lives as a focus. We seem to be wired for the here and the now…instant gratification and immediate results. The problems that arise from not seeing the end from the beginning are plentiful. Maybe the greatest swing and a miss from not seeing the legacy we will leave from the present choices we make is that we often miss the opportunity to leave an imprint of excellence that could actually make this world a far better place – today!
So today, on Dad’s Day, let’s tackle how we might Leave a Legacy. I think there are at least 5 ways we can insure that we can and will leave a legacy of excellence in our family, our community, our church and our world.
But before we can get to the good stuff…let’s stop and deal with this challenge. Why is it that so many of us are shortsighted in this area, but many of us can plan for college, retirement, investments, vacation, on and on and on?
Because we don’t see the short-term benefits of seeing the end from the beginning:
You see, if we are to leave a legacy, we will also start right now. Not when you I finish school or on Monday, or when things settle down, Legacy is being crafted in your life right now. It is the sum of all you think, say, do, act out or react from. If you are 30+, your legacy is already being written. But here’s the great news. If we choose to turn from our sinful, selfish selves and turn to a loving, gracious God that has a plan for our lives, we will start rewriting our legacy.
It’s a bit like your iPhone. Sometimes you just have to press and hold the home button and power button to reboot this amazing little computer…and it magically resets itself. Many of us need a reboot if we are to leave a godly legacy. But you say, Chuck…I don’t want to leave a legacy. Well, I’m afraid that’s not an option – you are going to leave an option, it’s just a matter of what it is and what it was and what it will be!
A husband and wife who walked by faith and, consequently, left a legacy far beyond anything they could have imagined, lived in the early 1700s in colonial America. Their names were Jonathan and Sarah Edwards.
Jonathan Edwards felt God’s call to become a minister. He and his young bride began a pastorate in a small congregation. During the years that followed, he wrote sermons, prayers, and books, and was influential in beginning the Great Awakening. Together they produced eleven children who grew into adulthood. Sarah was a partner in her husband’s ministry, and he sought her advice regarding most everything – smart guy. They spent time talking about these things together, and, when their children were old enough, the parents included them in the discussions – again – smart guy!
The effects of the Edwards’ lives have been significant, but the most measurable results of their faithfulness to God is found through their descendants. Here are a few of the accomplishments of the 1,400 Edwards descendants:
100 lawyers and a dean of a law school
80 holders of public office
66 physicians and a dean of a medical school
65 professors of colleges and universities
13 college presidents
3 mayors of large cities
3 governors of states
3 United States senators
1 controller of the United States Treasury
1 Vice President of the United States
What kind of legacy will you leave? Will it be lasting? Will it be imperishable and eternal? Or will you leave behind only tangible items—buildings, money, and/or possessions? Will anyone at your memorial service say of you…”he or she were kind, gracious, generous, helpful, prayerful, merciful, wise, or loving?
The apostle Paul instructed Timothy to invest his life in faithful folks who would be able to pass God’s truth on to the next generation. Where does God want you and your family to invest the time you have been given?
Because you see, we have bought the lie that time is like money – No it’s not!
When you lose time it is gone. When you kill time it has no resurrection!
So Let’s Live a Life Worthy of Legacy
Step 1 – Fear the Lord and obey Him. Your legacy begins in your heart, in your relationship with God. Psalm 112:1-2 reads: “How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed.”
See that promise? So what does it mean to Fear the Lord? If we really have a healthy adoration for God, we still should have an element of the knowledge that God can be frightening. “It is a frightening thing to fall into the hands of the living God” Hebrews 10:31. As sinful people, we have every reason to fear God’s judgment; it is part of our motivation to be reconciled with God. So this fear is built in respect, honor, reverence and adoration.
Step 2 – Recognize Other’s needs and respond with compassion and action. In Matthew 9:36 we read: “And seeing the multitudes. He [Jesus] felt compassion for them.” We need to leave a legacy by being committed to doing something about our world. There are plenty of folks walking in the middle of the road; they’re so focused on what other people think that they are unwilling to take any risks in order to make a difference. Maybe the problem with our modern faith is that we Christians…Nobody wants to kill us anymore.”
When you fly over rows of houses, do you wonder how many people in those homes know Jesus? This year thirty million people will die without hearing the name of Jesus. Hundreds of millions will pray to idols. We must reach these folks with the Good News. But before you check out on me – listen up! You don’t have to go to foreign lands, sell all your possessions or live in grass huts. These folks are in your neighborhoods, on your kid’s team. In your yoga class.And they’re everywhere.
John F. Kennedy, in Profiles in Courage, described the need for courageous people: “Some men show courage throughout the whole of their lives. Others sail with the wind until the decisive moment when their conscience and events propel them into the center of the storm.” If we want to leave a lasting legacy, we need to act with courage to reach out to folks in need.
Step 3 – Pray that God will use you to accomplish His purposes. In 1 Chronicles 4:10, Jabez prayed, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.”
What did Jabez ask God to do? Bless him. Give him new turf and enlarge his sphere of influence. Keep him from temptation. Stay with him. Make this your prayer, and at the end of the year, see how different your life will be.
Step 4 – Determine what your convictions are – Thomas Carlyle says, “Conviction is worthless until it can convert itself into daily conduct.” Determine what you are willing to die for so you can ultimately determine what you can live for.
Paul said that he was not ashamed of the Gospel – are you?
Step 5 – Ask God to give your children a sense of purpose, direction, and mission. The challenge here is to leave your children a heritage, not just an inheritance. As someone once said, “Our children are messengers we send to a time we will not see.” Are you planting trees that will provide shade for your grandkids? Proverbs 13:22: “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.”
This verse keeps our goals, vision and legacy front and center when we’re choosing how to use our money, talents and time today. When we weigh what we want now against what we really want later, we realize how temporary satisfaction pales in comparison to a legacy of purpose and generational fulfillment.
David Livingstone, the missionary to Africa, said, “I will go anywhere, as long as it is forward.” And by moving forward and advancing God’s kingdom, he undoubtedly also advanced his personal legacy of faith.
Gaining a vision and a direction in life will yield significance to your life. Especially as the omnipotent God of the universe sets that heading and direction. In fact, true vision, direction, and destiny can come only from the One who controls not only the present but also the future.
By discovering your eternal destiny, you will begin to build a lasting legacy in your life. The internal awareness of that God-ordained purpose will enhance the self-esteem of every member of your family.
The challenge is the same for all of us. Will we follow Jesus and fulfill His call and vision for our lives? Just as we found spiritual life in no other Person than Jesus, so we find a legacy like no other in the journey He provides.
How do you find it?
- Sacrifice…do I really need to continue? You choose!
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