“The only thing you take with you when you’re gone is what you leave behind.”
Most people, at one time or another, think about their legacy as a Father, Mother, Husband, or Wife. But what about we pastors? What comes to mind when we think about our legacy?
The best way to answer this question is to ask another question – “What legacy did Jesus leave behind?” We all know the answer: his legacy was eleven disciples. When we look at the question that way we realize our legacy as a pastor is not what we leave behind but who we leave behind. And not how many disciples we leave behind, but how well trained they are.
But it seems that’s not the way most pastors think. We talk about the church we built or the book we wrote. But I doubt if most of us think of our legacy as a “who.” But what could be a more lasting legacy than to leave behind a handful of highly committed disciples of Christ?
A good example is the rivalry between George Whitfield and John Wesley. The reason more people are familiar with Wesley than Whitfield is because Wesley left behind an army of trained lay people. Whitfield preached to more people and had more converts than Wesley did but it is Wesley who is best known because he left a behind a legacy of who.
So why not throw away your “to do” list in favor of a “to be” list. A “to be” list includes people you are intentionally mentoring. They could be part of your church or just someone in the neighborhood you feel has great potential. The important thing is that you are not along in your ministry. Your role is to mentor and release people, which is more than just increasing your worship attendance.
So, one of the things I enjoy doing is telling people “Jesus didn’t do much while he was among us,” and seeing the look on people’s face. But in truth, he didn’t leave much behind. No buildings or programs or monuments, just a rag tag group of misfits who believed enough in his teachings they were willing to die for him.
That’s the kind of legacy the world needs Christians to leave behind- Radical disciples who are willing to do whatever to leave behind a legacy of who.
So what adjustment will you have to make in order to leave such a legacy?
Watched a former mentor squander his last effective days trying to build a legacy in the form of buildings, church politics and expensive projects. He often described those as his personal legacy. Doing so, he lost a lot of other people’s money thus reaping a boatload of disgrace.
What made all this so sad is the thrust of the article above.
The guy began ministry by pouring into young guys. People like me are part of his true legacy, yet he seemed unable to acknowledge that right up to the end of his life. The worst part is that he wasted the opportunity to use his best years to share his treasure-trove of experience. Seeking a legacy seems the best way to lose one.