I think people tend to think of a legacy as something only extremely wealthy or extremely influential or extremely saintly people can hope to leave. That’s unfortunate because as I said before, I think everyone leaves a legacy of one kind or another, and it’s important to think about what your legacy will be and work toward that goal with your life.
One facet of this concept is your spiritual legacy. When you think about spiritual legacies, you might think of Biblical figures like Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, the disciples, or Paul – well known over centuries. Or perhaps you think of theologians like Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther or John Calvin. Maybe more modern figures come to mind. Certainly one type of spiritual legacy is the impact of theological writing, preaching and testimony on the way people understand spiritual things.
Even if you’re not a theologian or are without a worldwide platform you still have a spiritual legacy. You have a spiritual impact on your family, your community, and, through service or giving or prayer, on people around the world and in future generations.
I have an index card taped to my computer screen printed with 3 John 1:4 which says, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” Underneath I have another note, which I took out of a parenting book (and sadly neglected to note the source): “What am I doing RIGHT NOW to help my children know the truth and walk in it?” I think the best spiritual legacy I could leave would be children who know and live in the truth and so I try to remember in the midst of daily routine and activities that each moment is an opportunity to move toward that goal. Of course my children’s salvation is not a matter of my achievement but I hope to be available for God to work through me if He chooses.
Another aspect of my spiritual legacy that I’m considering is how I pray. Our small group Biblestudy is currently reading Bryan Chapell’s book Praying Backwards (you can read my review post here if you missed it) and one point Chapell raises is that when Jesus taught the disciples how to pray in Luke 11, He exhorted them to pray for God’s coming kingdom. In other words, Christians have the call to pray for things beyond our immediate realm of practical experience. As Chapell puts it,
The Bible encourages us to pray for what God alone can change – for church and government leaders, for the salvation of persons in other nations and future generations, for social ills…and moral decline…God will hear us and delight to answer our prayers in ways He knows are best so that He may be glorified in our heart, across the world, and for generations to come. (pp 113 and 118)
In light of this I ask myself, am I praying for my country, for people suffering here and around the world, for the problems of our society, for the oppressed, for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven? Am I praying for the salvation and protection of the people who my children will eventually marry? For my unborn grandchildren and great-grandchildren? If God chooses for His own reasons to work through the prayers of His people, as the Bible says He does, then part of my spiritual legacy are the prayers I lift in Jesus’ name.
Other aspects of spiritual legacy might be how you live out your faith in your workplace, or how you show God’s love to your neighbors, or how you support mission work or give your time teaching a Sunday School class. Once you start thinking about it, I’m sure you’ll come up with myriad ways you have or could have spiritual impact. Each of us is uniquely situated to do the specific work God has ordained for us. Our callings may change over time, but I think it’s exciting to be part of God’s work in my lifetime and beyond.
We are leaving a spiritual legacy. What kind will it be?