Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Leaving a Legacy

Leaving a Legacy

I know some people try to leave their children something when they die, maybe some insurance money, or property, or personal belongings.  I hope many parents try to leave their children with discipline, learning, and life experience, but do we ever think about the legacy we are leaving in our Christian lives and in our churches?

It is sad, but true, in many cases our churches and Christians are not leaving the next generation much to brag about.  It a lot of cases I've seen churches are getting older and members are dwindling and dying off and they are not winning the lost or making disciples or passing down much to whatever members are left except a dead church and an old outdated church building.  We also have leaders who refuse to step aside even  though mentally or physical they are unable to still do the work/role of the minister, elder, deacon, or whatever role they may be in.

The result is we are not leaving a legacy for the next generation to follow.  We all grow older and we all will eventually die and/or Jesus will return, but in the mean time, what are we doing to make sure the next generation knows and loves Jesus and is committed to Him and His Church?  What are we doing to make sure the church is in good hands and left in good shape?  I think many churches have failed and are failing in this area. 

I have always had a rule when I go anywhere to use, borrow, or rent something to leave it better than I found it.  I think as Christians and as Church members we need to leave the world better than we found it and we need to leave the church better than we found it.  I think that means we need to take the "Great commission" seriously!  We need to seek and save the Lost as Jesus set the example for us and we need to make disciples.  I think we need to get out of our comfort zones (our religious comfort zones), we need to stop following our traditions, and being set in our ways, and we need to start welcoming, ushering in, and mentoring the next generation of believers so they are ready and prepared to continue to lead the church, be the church, and continue to fulfill the great commission.

We may not realize this, but people who are holding the churches hostage with their money, or leaders who are dictators and controlling, or stubborn and hard headed members who have stopped and fought any progress and positive change in the church for the sake of their own selfish agenda will stand before the Lord some day and be held accountable.   I believe that with all my heart.  We have to get back to the basic and realize the church is the body of Christ and not our body.  That the churches job is to love God and love others and reach the lost and make disciples.  That means we have to adjust and change our styles, methods, and ways we do things from time to time as times, cultures, and traditions change.  You are not changing the truth just because you present the truth in a different method, you are not changing worship because you may change the style of worship, and you are not going to destroy the church is you step aside and allow someone else to lead or serve.

The truth is people treat church a lot like they do their careers or hobbies, sometimes they have a hard time letting go and want to live in the past or they find their identity in their church or position instead of having their identity in Christ.   I think we need to realize when we were younger we didn't want to do things the way our parents or grandparents did it and guess what, our children and grandchildren are the same way, so we have to learn to let go of the past, live in the present, and leave a legacy for the future.

That means we need to allow others to serve and lead.  We need to embrace change because it's not about us and our present comfort, but the continued work of the church to continue to reach the lost and make disciples and be healthy and grow.  We can to self-evaluate and see if we are the one who might be holding the church back with our set in our ways and living in the past mentality.  Maybe we need to start mentoring and training others to lead so that we can step aside when the time has come, instead of leading past our time and tarnishing our legacy with poor leadership and cooperation.  There is nothing sadder to me than a person who has led for years and had many great successes, but they end poorly, but Paul reminds us we must finish well and sometimes finishing well means when we are no longer able to do the job, we step aside and let others do it, but we also we have left the church in great shape and we past the baton to the next generation and they get a healthy and vibrant growing church to lead, as opposed to a dying, dwindling, crumbling church building and church body.

I want to leave a legacy for my family of loving and serving God. As a Minister I want to leave a legacy to all those I serve and lead and when my time comes to retire or step out of the pulpit I hope I will recognize it. I think many times we try to hold on too long and we let our ego or pride get in the way and again we are making the church about us, and it's not.  It's about God, always has been and always will be.  When you see a church that has dwindled down to nothing and lost all its members it's because the church has/had poor leadership, no vision, and church became out the members and not about God. 

I pray we all leave a better legacy in our churches and in our Christian faith.  Know when to lead and when to step aside.  Know when to set an example, teach, mentor, train, and serve and when to allow the next generation to do it.  Don't hinder or hold back the church of the work of God, but leave the church better than you found her and let God continue to use your church and your example for years to come.  Leave a Legacy.

Hebrews 12:1-3(niv)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

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