Building a Legacy That Lasts
By Pastor Taylor Mendoza
Hello Church Family,
A leadership guru, John Maxwell, once said that good leadership is influence, but great leadership is determined by the leader’s legacy. Legacy is what a leader leaves behind after he is gone. Legacy is the real proof test of whether or not that leader was great. Legacies that last require hard work on our part. Further, legacies that last require that we pour into someone who will outlive us.
Death is the great equalizer of all of humanity, and since no one will escape it, we ought to come to grips with the fact that we will eventually go home and be with the Lord. However, the question of our legacy will still stand years after we have gone. Our legacy will depend on whether or not we raised the next generation in the gospel. We do this by being parents. Not everyone is in the same stage of life, yet the church as a whole (elderly, parents, singles, and youth) is responsible for building a legacy that lasts. How do we do that? Here are some thoughts worth considering.
1. Pass the Baton.
The most essential thing for building a legacy that lasts is passing the baton from your own life to the next generation. Much like a relay race during a track and field event, each person must recognize that they have one section of the race. And so it must go throughout human history. This was the heart of the apostle Paul who, over 2,000 years ago, taught his disciples the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then likewise, encouraged his pupils to do the same to the next generation. Paul told Timothy: “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1-2).
Teaching the next generation the wonderful truths of the gospel shouldn’t be a secondary and helpful thing, but a primary one. Some may object by saying that being youth-orientated will lead the church to adopt seeker-sensitive models of ministry in order to attract more young people. But the church doesn’t need to do that. Paul did not tell Timothy to be youth-orientated, but to be gospel-orientated.
To be gospel-orientated in discipleship is to be youth-orientated biblically because we recognize that the kingdom of God is bigger than our preferences and lives. Theologian, Owen Strachan, once called on the church to risk being youth-orientated, so as to build strong families. This is a risk because you have to be willing to trade in your dreams of self-driven comfort, ease, quiet, mobility, and indulgence for the self-sacrificial but far more enjoyable goal of leading a generation to know and worship God and to glorify him. So my question to you is: Where are you passing the baton?
2. Live and demonstrate your joy in God at home and church.
Little people are always watching. Youth today are feeling the pressures of what can be called “achievement-orientated” families. This occurs in both biological families and the family of God. How does a family become achievement-orientated? If your first priority is saving up for college and retirement—good things to do!—then you’ll naturally make the family a place of achievement. The Christian family is not scared of “success,” of money, good grades, and a two-car garage. These can be blessings from God, yet there are far more important concerns.
The family is created by God, and the Christian family is devoted to God in the church and in the home. This is an issue of keeping the main thing the main thing. Every family should not be achievement-orientated, but worship-orientated. David once remarked in Psalm 16, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” The presence of God and the joy that came in being in his presence was the ultimate priority of David’s life. In the Westminster Catechism, we read that the chief end of mankind is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
If you were given the opportunity to ask your children, or the next generation at Northpoint, to name the chief end of the family, or of the church, what would they say? Would it be: “The chief end of this family and this church is to glorify God and enjoy him forever?” No doubt it is a high calling, yet it is the most rewarding. Remember little people are always watching!
3. Get them to Church.
Lastly, the discipline of getting the next generation into the church is the secret for building a legacy that lasts. John said, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments” (1 John 5:2). Later he said, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (5:21). Our love for the children of God (all believers) is displayed by our love for God and obedience to his commands. We avoid idolatry and protect our hearts from loving other things other than God. We certainly have a mandate to help the next generation understand and practice the same thing.
The late Eugene Peterson once wrote a book entitled, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.” That title says it all: discipleship is long. If you have children, get them to church. The fellowship that they will have, even if they do not like it, will help them understand the love of God and will protect them from idolatry. Do not give them the choice; help them to make sure that as long as they live under your roof, they will be a part of the church.
If you give them the opportunity to decide for themselves, they might think that you really don’t think it is a priority. A great way to get the next generation involved in the church is sending them to winter camp for a concentrated time in the word without distraction (sign-ups begin this Sunday online!). Yet, one thing is for sure: we need to raise up the next generation in the gospel if we are to have a legacy that lasts for the sake of God’s glory.
Pastor of Student Ministries