What's your legacy?
I don't know whether it is because I'm approaching middle age (always a bit of a funny phrase, because it rather assumes life expectancy) or for what other reason it might be, but I've been thinking about the legacy I'll leave.
I said this in a small group in a slightly embarrassed way, and one older man didn't miss a beat before saying, 'It is never too early to think about your legacy.'
The desire to be fruitful and to leave some God-glorifying work, seems the concern of the Psalmist.
'So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom...Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.' Psalm 90: 12-17 (The old version was so beautiful, I went with it for a change!)
What might we leave after us?
Here are some simple suggestions for leaving something that will bless those that come afterwards.
- Pray now, no matter what your age, that you will have a line of kids, grandchildren etc who will trust in Jesus. Kent and Barbara Hughes who have taught me so much on family from their books, say that they always have done this.
- Identify and pray for your spiritual children. That is, those people you have nurtured who are not your biological kids, but who you have invested in to bear fruit and be influential for the kingdom.
- Leave your affairs well in order. I do take some funerals where the next of kin haven't been left any instruction about funeral service, even where the deceased was a keen Christian. On these sad occasions, the default is sometimes to go straight to the crematorium and make little of God. What a tragedy! If you want a Christian funeral with the gospel preached evangelistically; say!
- As the Lord leads, leave money for gospel work.
- Leave your wisdom after you. Let the next generation know what you have learnt about Jesus and how you learnt it. I have been blessed by a few good books from my Grandfather, Lloyd Fielder, that have encouraged me in my Christian life and indeed into full time ministry.
- Bless them with godly traditions. It may well be that this isn't a hugely important one for you, but traditions can be really important. If you have encouraged prayer at meal times, a family worship song, love of beautiful places in creation, special food, fun game, treasured wholesome novels or films, or some such thing, that might be a really blessed part of their thanksgiving to God and lives in the future.
- Teach them as far as is possible to fear the Lord. A fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). It doesn't matter what job they get, how well their collection of educational achievements goes, or if they find romantic love. What matters is that they fear, love and serve Jesus. If they have left your home and therefore your influence due to being grown up, don't despair. Remember if they aren't Christians yet, that there was one man who had many of his family converted at his funeral. I bet he rejoiced in heaven if he knew!
- Show them what matters with your actions as well as your words. Don Carson, recalls that every start of the day saw his Father's study door closed as his Father would be on his knees reading the Bible and seeking Jesus in prayer. He was only available after that.
- I think also they need to see that we say sorry when we mess up, and the gospel is for us as much as them. Good news that they can learn from our mistakes if we will give them that gift. I know it is not easy!
I can't think of any more at the moment, but these are some of the things that I have very imperfectly tried to give some thought.
They aren't meant to make us look good, but to leave a Jesus-style legacy to those that come after us.
Probably you have lots of better ideas, if so, why not email me and I can do another list as I'd love to learn from you guys.
Remember.... it is never to early to start and to number your days.