Each one of us will be remembered or judged by what we leave behind.
The life we lived.
The fights we fought.
The family we raised.
The ministry we did.
The mission we accomplished.
The impact we had.
This is what we call LEGACY. It’s what you and I leave behind.
We often think of LEGACY in terms of what to leave behind WHEN we retire, grow old or die.
It shouldn’t be, right?
Have you considered leaving a legacy NOW?
You see, we don’t need to be in the retirement stage to begin to leave a legacy. We shouldn’t be thinking about our legacy only when our days on this earth are numbered.
We can begin NOW. As a matter of fact, we should begin now.
Here’s the thing. Every single day of our life, whether we want to or not, we leave something that gets added on to the final legacy we will eventually have. It may be a word, an action, or an idea. All these get to go into our legacy ledger. So we should do it right! It’s not accidental, it is intentional.
As men and women in ministry, we leave a legacy of a life that reflects God. This means that, in our service as ministers of the Gospel, we leave a mark not only to those younger than us, but those who are older as well.
How can we leave a LEGACY to the people who follow us? Here is a brief lesson from David on how.
“Then King David rose to his feet and said, … So I had made preparations to build it.” 1 Chronicles 28:2
By this time, David already knew he was not the one to build the temple of God, in his place would be Solomon, his son. David did not stop rallying for the project even when he knew that he wasn’t going to have any part in the building of the temple. He continued preparations as best as he could contributing where he had the resources (1 Chronicles 29:2).
We plant the seeds daily for a lasting legacy.
We prepare for it, even if we won’t live to see the results.
“So now, in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek after all the commandments of the Lord ...” 1 Chronicles 28: 8
Live a life that is a testimony of our calling, that is worth emulating, and consistent in the presence of others and in the solitary presence of God. Walk each step glorifying God, not ourselves. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 reminds us that we are living letters, not dead relics. “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.” 1 Chronicles 28:9-10, 20
Solomon was still young, but David made sure his son heard with his own ears what he also saw with his own eyes.
Words matter. Don’t just live it, but it is important to SPEAK it as well. In our position as both parents and pastors, we cannot always assume that our kids and our congregation are getting it just only by watching us DO things. They may. Then again, they may not. The problem with just “doing” is that people can misinterpret our actions. Not all actions result in the same conclusion. A kind deed can be misconstrued as either kind or manipulative. But no one would know unless we speak of what we do. We need to tell them what we are doing, instruct them on how to do the lessons we want them to learn.
“Then David gave to his son Solomon the plan of the porch of the temple, … and the plan of all that he had in mind, for the courts of the house of the Lord…” 1 Chronicles 28:11-13
As I already mentioned earlier, be intentional. Be active in leaving a legacy. Plant the seeds everyday.
1 Chronicles 29:10-16 is David’s prayer of “Thanksgiving and recognition of God’s grace.” It goes… “So David blessed the Lord in the sight of all the assembly; and David said, “Blessed are You, O Lord God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name.“But who am I and who are my people that we should [h]be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You. For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided to build You a house for Your holy name, it is from Your hand, and all is Yours.”
Each act that we do is a mark on the legacy we leave behind. People will remember us for each of those acts – whether they are victories or failures. After any, every and all the success that we may have in this life, we must always deflect the praise and give it to God. All the honor is due to God and God alone.
Think about it:
Have you started to build on the legacy you will leave behind?
As a father, what kind of legacy are you going to leave to your children?
As a pastor, what kind of legacy are you going to leave to the next generation in your church?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Tan, from the Philippines, is a pastor’s wife, a pastor’s kid, a counselor, professional editor (for both academic and popular writing), resource speaker, writer, and blogger. Her passion is to minister to women (pastor’s wives in particular), couples and families. Donna’s ministry experiences span ages and cultures; having led youth and women ministries in the Philippines, as well as women ministries in the US (as a leader with Trinity Wives Fellowship from 2010-2012, in Deerfield, IL).
Donna is married to Dr. Jason Richard Tan (Ph.D.), and they have two children – Joshua (16) and Elisha (11). They have been married for 18 years. Jason and Donna are missionaries under GlobalGrace Fellowship (based in Pasadena, CA) serving the Philippines and Asia. She is the Admin Director of Great Commission Missionary Training Center. You can connect with Donna through her blog TonesOfHope.blogspot.com.