“No legacy is so rich as honesty.”
– William Shakespeare
“What will be written on your tombstone?” asked our men’s small group leader at church. By asking this question, he was urging us to think about what we wanted to be remembered for… The most famous Instagram account? The most successful businessman? The greatest actress? The best mom? Valedictorian?
Ask this of yourself today: what legacy do I want to leave behind? Are my actions currently leading toward that end?
Legacy is often measured by numbers, fame, and ancestries, but the greatest legacies are measured by faithfulness. Why is it impressive to hear of a marriage of 40+ years?
Because faithfulness is rare. Why are we not shocked when we hear of embezzlement within billion dollar corporations? Because compromise is common.
Our desire for instant gratification makes us foolish, prideful, nearsighted, and can ultimately destroy our legacy. As I have thought about my own legacy, I have to wonder how much of what I do is driven by pride? Do my actions create a trajectory for a God honoring legacy?
As it is in navigation, just a one degree difference in your course, can completely alter your destination. One deviation from honesty, one lapse of judgement, can destroy a life.
The above quote by Shakespeare rings true because a legacy built upon lies and compromise is sure to crumble. I have really enjoyed watching a show on Hulu called “Designated Survivor”. Jack Bauer (Not his name in this show), is POTUS and he has endured the worst case scenario of many White House scandals, terrorist attacks, etc. And occasionally, one of the supporting characters will caution him about having a certain conversation, making a certain statement, or releasing certain information. The reason? It would ruin or stain “his legacy”. Interestingly, if you search legacy on the internet, the primary thing you will find relates to political legacies. Why? Because in politics, your name, what you do, and what you say means everything. And to most of the world, the preservation of the nation is greater than the importance of personal legacy. C.S. Lewis had a different opinion,
“If individuals live only seventy years, then a state, or a nation, or a civilisation, which may last for a thousand years, is more important than an individual. But if Christianity is true, then the individual is not only more important but incomparably more important, for he is everlasting and the life of the state or civilisation, compared with his, is only a moment.” – C.S. Lewis
Once I realize that my choices do matter, that they bear eternal weight and consequence, I must balance that truth with a realization of my ultimate purpose which is to glorify God and make His name known. A legacy that enshrines my name and diminishes Christ’s name is a terrifying legacy to live as well as leave.
The name of Jesus is to be represented and made famous and not my own, however, as Pastor Joe Thorn points out, “Any man set ablaze with a holy zeal for the glory of Jesus Christ is hard to forget. His mission and message leave a mark that can’t be missed. Since we’re talking about John the Baptist, consider him who said “I must decrease.” Jesus says of him,”Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.” (Matthew 11:11 ESV)
Why do we remember men like Chrysostom, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Owen, Bunyan, Edwards, Whitefield, Wesley, Spurgeon and Moody? Precisely because they made so much of Jesus. Of course, most of us will have a circle of influence much smaller than that of the heavy-hitters of the faith, but those who make Christ known will leave behind a legacy.”
For me, when people hear the name “David Bunce” I don’t want them to say “He was just so nice!” (Of course, conversely, I don’t wish that they would say “Yeah, I hated that guy.”)
But I want people to say, “David really loved Jesus, loved others, loved his family and lived the Gospel.” What about you?
Do you care? Do you think that the way you live today will leave a legacy that points others to Jesus and helps others follow in His footsteps as you do the same? I so greatly desire to leave behind a trail of breadcrumbs for others to follow, as a beggar who followed the Bread of Life.
A passionate pursuit of Christ is costly, it rarely leads to fame, and even less often results in comfort; but there is an inheritance, for those who leave a legacy of faithfulness, that is worth your lifetime.
What legacy will you leave?
“Only one life ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
– Charles Studd