“Legacy” is a word associated with the end of a person’s life, considering the value of their life and assets after they have passed on from this earth. A recent training trip to Honduras, though, prompted me to think about “legacy” a bit differently.
A living legacy seems like a more worthy goal. Focusing on the legacy you want to give to those whose lives you touch while you are still alive gives greater force to your everyday living and ensures that you will ultimately leave a legacy that continues on, hopefully for generations.
While in Honduras, our team of five trained about 100 volunteers and leaders in children’s ministry. Teaching them how to help children hear from God, to develop Bible lessons that would engage kids and draw them into a relationship with Jesus and to teach for spiritual application, rather than only an increase in knowledge, will help these adults leave a spiritual legacy with their children that will be far more valuable than any material legacy.
You and I model our legacy all the time, whether planned or unplanned, spiritual or otherwise. I have a granddaughter, Abby, who is three years old and loves being in charge whenever she thinks she can. I spend every Friday with her doing all the fun things together that we can. One of her favorite things to do is help me feed the birds that come to eat from the bird feeders behind our home. On a particular Friday, the feeders were empty. I gathered the bird seed and she pushed past me and ran out the door, excited to be included in the job.
It had rained hard the night before. As we came to an area where there was mud, she turned around and held up her hand. “Stop, Grandma!” she yelled. “Don’t step in the mud. Follow me and I will show you the places to step.” After I finished laughing to myself about a 3-year old telling her grandma what to do, I played along with her and followed the path she created. She felt very proud that she had “rescued” me with her wisdom! Simple as this story seems, and though it doesn’t deal with spiritual issues, she had already been given a piece of wisdom that had been added to the legacy her parents were leaving.
What we do as parents, grandparents, teachers or ministry leaders want to be the legacy for our children? Will our legacy be shallow or foundational, secular or spiritual? A legacy is built daily, consistently and purposefully. As our team completed our training at one location, five participants shared openly their appreciation for what we had taught them. Comments included, “We will put this to work right away,” “You will never know how much it means to us that you show us how to teach our children about Jesus,” and “Thank you for helping us to know how to hear from God and to teach our children to hear from him, too.”
What living legacy are you building for the kids in your life? Invest in it today.
The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (NLT)