Legacy Leadership – Part 4 – Leaving a Legacy


LL - 4 - 1You and I can have an impact upon others that outlasts your lifespan on this earth. In fact, it is unavoidable. The big question is whether or not that it will have been a positive impact.

Following certain Biblical principles, you can leave a legacy, a spiritual inheritance that will affect the lives of others for all eternity.

I have discussed this in my previous articles. And many others have discussed the idea of leaving a legacy as well. Presidents often speak of leaving a “legacy” when their term is done. You hear expressions like: “President Clinton’s legacy is…” or “What will President Bush’s legacy be?” These expressions are referring to the impact that their presidency will have upon future generations. It means, how will history remember them?

I want to talk to you today about leaving a Spiritual legacy, a spiritual inheritance, for those who come after us. Passing on to the next generations a legacy with eternal value is far more important than a temporal inheritance of money and property.

Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.

But what does that really mean? I have already said that things of eternal value are of the utmost importance. So, on a practical level, what can I do?

LL - 4 - 2My wife and I recently met with our financial advisor. We looked at where we are currently and whether or not we are “on track”. He told us we are on track. That was good news. I asked him to share with us his projections and the parameters that he was using. He ran our life span out to age 90. And at the ripe old age of 90, he said we still had a little money left over to “leave to the children”. I felt pretty good about that. You know, leaving money to our young children and all. But then my wife asked him to run the projection out to age 100! Strangely enough we don’t have a whole lot of money left at that point. I was downhearted at the prospect of that. But, my intelligent and highly mathematically inclined wife quickly reminded me that when we are 100, our “children” will be in their early and mid 70s! They will probably have been retired for 15 or more years themselves! And their children will be in their 50s and probably thinking about retirement for themselves! I had it all wrong.

Well, consider the following as some practical guidance from a Biblical perspective.

Our children and grandchildren should be target #1 for our legacy. – Your primary task in life is to pour your life into your children and to raise up a generation of strong and confident Christian leaders who are more equipped and better prepared for the task of changing our culture for Christ than you and I were.

This doesn’t happen accidentally!

What about you?

Where you equipped by your father for the tasks that you face today?

Did your father demonstrate what it is to be a husband, to be a father, to be a church member, to be an employee, or to be a friend?

On a very close and practical matter, it requires that my wife and me will love our children enough to train them in good character, to discipline them when needed, to instruct them in God’s Word, to teach them to love God, to serve God, to love the church, and to live for God before them 24/7. A piece of cake! Right?

LL - 4 - 3Fathers, the seemingly never-ending effort pays off. The single most important legacy you can leave is that your children are serving the Lord and beginning to live out a legacy that is built on the foundation of your legacy. And when they do, they will be affecting their generation and the next and the next.

1 Timothy 4:8 says, “For physical training is of some value, but Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

I love that verse. But context is everything when it comes to passages such as this. This verse comes as part of some pretty stiff warnings from the Apostle Paul to Timothy.

Take a look at the first two verses of Chapter 4 of 1st Timothy:  1 – The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 – Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

Paul especially marked this as a revelation from the Holy Spirit; either as a spontaneous word given as he wrote or quoting from a previous prophecy, we don’t really know. But Paul knew certain dangers would mark the latter times and he is writing to Timothy about those times and the importance of Holy living in those days.

Paul was writing to Timothy about his ministry legacy while Timothy was still young.

He warned him about the following:

  • The danger of apostasy (some will depart). — Are you concerned at all about your children or grandchildren departing the Faith?
  • The danger of deception (deceiving spirits). — Are you concerned about someone deceiving them?
  • The danger of false teaching (doctrines of demons). — Are you concerned about the things that some may be wanting to teach them?

Our lifestyle and actions create a lasting legacy. – Live a life of Holiness before God and in front of your family and your good deeds and acts of kindness will not be forgotten. And, they will return to bless your children and grandchildren.

But, be not only a “Godly” man. Be a “Good” man. Be a man that other men will want to be around.

Our responsibility to the “younger” generation is very real. – We have a responsibility to touch the lives of the next generation that aren’t our own children.

Notice that I didn’t say that when they are not your children they aren’t your responsibility.

These young people who are young husbands and young fathers are our responsibility.

Historically the church has done a very poor job with this demographic segment. We think if we have a “Young Married” Sunday School class we have done a great thing.

Well, we haven’t.

LL - 4 - 4Those of us with a little grey in our hair (or no hair at all) need to be actively engaging in the lives of young men who are making monumental decisions that will affect their family and their career for now and for eternity. And the truth of the matter is that many of the do not have Godly fathers that they can turn to for advice on how to face the challenges of being a husband and father.

These are just a few things that we can do to leave a legacy that is worth something to those who will receive it.

I began this little article with the statement that we are having an impact on future generations. The question for us today is whether or not that is a positive one.

Negative impacts that lead to a negative legacy are often the result of taking the path of least resistance. Everyone likes that path when given the option. But that path does not very often lead to creating a legacy that our children and grandchildren will want to follow.

Let’s face it, raising a family and building a career is hard work. And as men we have far too often outsourced the role of creating a Godly heritage to our wives.

But let’s be clear – you and I are the ones who will stand before God one day and give an account for our family. Theologically let’s be clear here. Ultimately our children will be accountable for their own decisions. I get that and it is true.

But you and I will be accountable for the atmosphere 
in which our children made those decisions.

Just let that sink in for a minute or two.

Finally, here are the final words from this 4th chapter of 1st Timothy.  15 – Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 – Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.  1 Timothy 4:15-16 NIV

He uses a word we don’t hear very often anymore. He uses the word “preserver”. You never see the word persevere associated with something easy or pleasurable. But, Paul is reminding Timothy that this will have lasting implications for him and those around him.

And let me tell you from personal experience. Those decisions that you make are in fact, multi-generational.

Consider the words of a famous poem. You probably only know two of the lines from each stanza. But the entire poem has a powerful message.

Only One Life

by C.T. Studd

Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgment seat;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
Living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say, “Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Some sobering thoughts, aren’t they?

Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center / Foter / CC BY-NC
Photo credit: kenteegardin / Foter / CC BY-SA
Photo credit: Lotus Carroll / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: Arbron / Foter / CC BY
Photo credit: Adrian Kingsley-Hughes / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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I am the husband of a beautiful and wonderful woman. I am the father of two of the greatest kids on the planet. I am a father-in-law to a great young woman. And I am Papa to three very special grandchildren. In my spare time I am an active blogger and writer. And if there is any time left over, I work with small non-profit organizations and churches on the topics of change management, crisis intervention and leadership development.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.