Your Unforgettable Life
When you woke up this morning, it is possible you started your day believing a lie. The deception is subtle, even subconscious. The falsehood is seldom articulated or analyzed. What is this fallacious fib? The essence of the untruth is that it does not matter how you lived your life, why you lived your life, or even that you lived your life.
We Need Your Legacy
The truth is that the world around you needs your legacy. The story and significance of your life is waiting to be told to a world hungry for meaning and models. The drama, defeats, determination, and dialogue of your journey offers meaning to eager hearts – around the world and right under your nose.
Today, the world you step into looks like this:
- 1.75 billion people are desperately poor[i]
- One billion are hungry[ii]
- Each year nearly two million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade, the second largest organized crime in the world[iii]
- Before you finish reading the next few pages, almost 90 children will die of preventable diseases[iv]
This morning, if you live in the United States, you’ll exist in a society that shows evidence of moral and spiritual implosion:
- Only 17% attend church on any given Sunday[v]
- Approximately 2.6 million people leave the church every decade[vi]
- Those claiming no religion in the U.S. have almost doubled in the last decade[vii]
- Evangelicals now account for only 10% of the population
- Approximately 1,500 pastors a month leave the ministry in the United States[BB1 – see footnote below]
More importantly, as you make your morning coffee, glance at the family pictures on the walls of your home, and check your Facebook updates from friends and associates, you should realize:
- Your spouse needs you to be a spiritual anchor in a world gone adrift
- Your children or grandchildren are crying out for an example of how to live their lives with integrity
- Every one of your friends is hungry for an encouraging word from someone who understands the meaning of this earthly journey
- Your work and ministry associates need a model that stands out and stands apart from the confusing blueprint of our out-of-control world
The circulating lie is that only a select and special minority make a significant impact on this world. But if legacy was primarily about money, only the rich really matter. If legacy was about achievement, only the driven and extraordinarily skilled would count. If legacy was about knowledge, only those with superior IQs would be respected.
An inheritance is what we leave for others. A legacy is what we leave in them. The truth is everyone has the potential of leaving a legacy in this life.
What is a Legacy?
Legacy is defined as something transmitted by or received from another who has preceded us in this life. In the end, a deeper life must be a life deposited into the fertile soil of eternal souls through the transforming seeds of truth. Integrity is a priority for every life. Integrity invested in others is priceless in every generation. A legacy is an eternally significant investment of one’s life in the lives of others. Legacy allows each of us to “outlive our life” and leave behind a testimony of worship, integrity, and non-conformity in this world.
Benjamin Franklin said, “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” The book, The Deeper Life, and your engagement with the process of strategic daily renewal, is intended to help you compose the insurance policy of an unforgettable life.
We’ve heard many times that it’s not how you start the race but how you finish that matters. Legacy really is at the core of asking, “How will I finish?” We cannot control when we will hit the finish line of life, but we can intentionally focus our energies on how we will cross that line.
An Impressive Finish
Knowing the Christian life is a long-distance event compels us to ask the question: How will I end the race? What will my spiritual pace look like as I approach the finish line? Will my last lap be my best one? Or will I dribble across the finish line with a “spiritual retirement” mindset, running without purpose?
Paul finished impressively. In what amounted to the final press of his pen to the parchment, he wrote,
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Paul was so spiritually resolute in his final steps before touching eternity’s tape that he described his death as an act of worship. He spoke with passion about the grace of God that enabled him to finish his race and spoke with great anticipation of the crown that made every effort worth it. We do not know exactly how many years Paul lived, and really it does not matter, because this life is a “vapor” whether it is eight years, 18 years, or 81 years. We do know how intentionally Paul lived. His legacy tells the story.
The Value of Your Life
Billy Graham wrote, “No matter where we are, retirement presents us with two choices. Either we can use it to indulge ourselves, or we can use it to make an impact on the lives of others. In other words, the choice we face is between empty self-indulgence and meaningful activity. Will we seek God’s plan for our retirement years? Or will we drift aimlessly along, assuming our usefulness is over and spend the rest of our days trying to squeeze as much enjoyment as we can out of life?” Philosopher William James wrote, “The great use of one’s life is to spend it on something that will outlast it. For the value of life is computed, not by its duration but by its donation.”
Each of us has the opportunity every day to leave a legacy IN others as we follow Christ, by the power of the Spirit, and consider the vital role we play in the ongoing legacy of the Gospel in this broken world.
Copyright © 2014 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.
[i] UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2009: Maternal and Newborn Health, www.unicef.org/sowc09/report/report.php
[ii] Food and Agriculture Organization for the United Nations, The State of Food Insecurity in the World: Economic Crisis—Impacts and Lessons Learned, 2, ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/012/i0876e/i0876e.pdf
[iii] UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2007: Women and Children; The Double Dividend of Gender Equality, 5, www.unicef.org/sowc07/docs/sowc07.pdf
[iv] Anup Shah, “Today, Over 25,000 Children Died Around the World,” Global Issues, www.globalissues.org/article/715/today-over-25000-children-dies-around-the-world.
[v] 7 Startling Facts: An Upclose Look at Church Attendance in America. http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html
[vi] John. S. Dickerson, The Great Evangelical Recession, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2013. p. 22
[BB1] I tried to find original sourcing for this. Many references online of it being sourced to Focus on the Family and Barna, but difficult to nail down. This was the closet I found: Compilation of surveys from Focus on the Family, Pastor’s Gatherings.