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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

02 Aug '08

Legacy

Posted by T.J. Addington in Intentional living, The heart
What if you could actually shape the legacy you leave? Rancy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon had that opportunity when he discovered that he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. Millions have been impacted by "The Last Lecture he gave on lessons he had learned in his life.

The courage and grace with which Randy and his wife Jai faced his early death riveted and inspired many. His book has caused many to think about the power of legacy and what they will leave behind.

All of our lives have a finish line. The question is, when we reach that line, what have we left behind? What legacy will we leave?

Fast forward to the day of your funeral. Your family is there, your kids, your spouse - if you are married - and your closest friends. If you could listen in on their conversation what would you want to hear? What will your kids say about you?

When I consult with organizations on issues like their preferred future, we never start with the present. Rather we ask the question, what do you want to look like in ten years? What kind of organization do you want to be and what kind of impact do you want to have? You look first at the end and then you design a plan that will make it possible for the organization to reach its target.

Here is an interesting concept. We often live life without much of a target - driven by the moment, our jobs, the expectations of others and the overwhelming busyness of life - hoping we get it right. But too many get to the finish line with a long list of regrets.

They realize that they didn't invest enough time in their children or marriage. They regret that they did not have more time for deep relationships. They wish that there had been more time for reflection and thinking but now there is too little time for those things that suddenly are more important than the salary they pulled down or the ladder they climbed.

It is possible to minimize the number of regrets we have a the finish line by determining now what we want our legacy to be. And then to use the legacy we want to leave as the blueprint for how we choose to live our lives. In other words we need to start with the end result we want and then design our lives in a way that is most likely to get us there.

God did not design live to be randomly or carelessly lived. He created each of us uniquely first for relationship with Him and then for work for Him. There is purpose to our lives - an eternal purpose that will outlive our days on this earth.

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25), the master calls his three servants and tells them that he is going on a long journey. He divides his wealth and tells them to invest it well so that there is a return when he comes back.

Upon his return, two of the servants had doubled the money given to them to manage. To these two, Jesus said, "Well done, good and faithful servants. You have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness (Matthew 25:21).

The third servant was preoccupied with his own life issues and frankly didn't have time for his master's investments so he merely buried it and offered a lame excuse for why he had not invested them on his master's behalf. Jesus' words for the third servant were harsh. He had not paid attention to his master's business but only to his own.

There is both a message of blessing and a warning in this parable. Of course, the master is Christ, his servants are us. The talents (money) he handed out are the gifts and opportunities he has given to us to use on his behalf for the unique work he prepared for each of us to accomplish on his behalf. Our choice is whether we will faithfully steward what He has entrusted or whether we will live a life of self preoccupation and selfishness.

Using the gifts God has entrusted to us is one of the greatest blessings any of could experience because these investments have eternal value. Those of us who take our opportunity seriously will be with many individuals in heaven who our lives touched - many whom we never met - because we used the gifts God gave us to attain a lasting, eternal legacy.

Take a few moments and jot down what you want your legacy to be and then ask whether you are living out the priorities that will get you where you want to be when you reach the finish line. It makes all the difference in this world - and the next.