I love the idea of leaving a legacy. I want to do something so meaningful it extends beyond my own life.
However, I find in this a temptation to become self-absorbed and idolatrous.
When exactly do we start considering leaving a legacy? Is it when we get married and realize our actions now significantly affect another person? Or maybe it’s when we stare into the face of our infant children and see future generations? How about when we turn 40, check our retirement account balance or start listening to AM radio?
Leaving a Legacy
I am not sure when it begins, but I know that as we age, it normally intensifies. It is appropriate to consider how our actions will affect those around us. It is beneficial to live for generations yet unborn. A long-term view is a godly, honorable (and rare) perspective. The Bible speaks well of those who leave an inheritance for their children’s children.
But, like many other positive pursuits, Satan lurks nearby, seeking to hijack them. Often, the distortion begins to sound like this, “I want my legacy to be…”
Hold on there cowboy. Whose legacy?
Can you hear the slithering serpent? He’s whispering, “Hey, it’s OK to ‘do things’ for God, go ahead; but, in the end, make sure your work is remembered. You deserve it.”
If we have any positive legacy to leave, it will be because of what God chose to do through us. It will not be due to our financial genius, ministry savvy or political clout.
We are not the creators of our own legacy. We are the stewards of His.
What does this mean?
Did Noah worry if his ark would be remembered? Or did Paul hope his letters would be part of the most widely read resource for all time? Did Moses see America establishing its legal system upon his commandments? I bet not.
Yes, we sacrifice time and energy for the Lord. We intercede in prayer, we fund the foundation, and we take those actions. But, even in that, how did we come to possess the time, ability or resources?
One of Satan’s time-tested tricks is to have us fall in love with the gift, not the giver. God gives the first generation believer the power to break the curse in his family tree, and before you know it, the guy puts his head on the pillow at night, proud of how faithful he has been. He provides the wealth and soon the philanthropist revels in her ability to fund so many causes, and He empowers the surgeon who then keeps a mental list of all the lives he has saved.
Are we using God’s money, His talent, His love and His inspiration in the building of “our” legacy? Are we placing stolen bricks in monuments we build to ourselves?
Now, in a sense, I do want to leave a legacy. I want my boys to grow up and fear the Lord and live all their days in a way that honors Him. My wish is to leave them with an inheritance or at least, no debt burden, and for them to have a solid example of how a man should love his wife. I get it.
It’s one of the key reasons we started Manhood Journey, to help men pass on their faith to future generations.
I just don’t want to fall in love with a legacy that points back to me personally. I want Christ to do something so powerful through my life that only He could possibly get the credit.
Put another way – if I am forgotten, yet Christ is remembered – then, I have left a great legacy.