When we think of leaving a legacy, we often think in terms of death and how we will be remembered.
However, it also applies to times of change. Whether it’s moving to a new place or parting ways with a close friend, what we did and the way people remember us is the legacy we leave.
One of the most lasting ways we can leave a legacy is through discipleship.
This intentional act of investing your time and energy in the life of another will influence how they develop in their faith, and how they help others do the same.
It’s important to take seriously the power you have as one person to influence the life of another, and to keep in mind the legacies you’re leaving for others to emulate and carry on.
To help you consider the ways you are influencing others, here are four kinds of legacies:
A legacy of excellence
In leaving a legacy characterized by excellence, Saint Francis of Assisi said “it’s no use walking anywhere to preach unless your preaching is your walking.”
As disciplemakers, the way we leave a lasting legacy of excellence is through pursuing it every day. Living out the life and teachings of Jesus and serving the needs of those around us raises the standard for those we interact with. In seeking to become excellent disciples of Jesus, we have the opportunity to inspire others to seek the same for their lives.
A legacy of encouragement
Barnabas stands out as one of the top biblical examples of encouragement. Even his name reflects this (the Son of Encouragement). He was renowned for his encouraging attitude, constantly lifting others up and affirming the good work he saw happening.
Like Barnabas, we too can leave a lasting legacy of encouragement. It often starts with looking to the interests and needs of others, considering them as equal to our own.
This helps us take a genuine interest in what matters most to them. We then have the opportunity to express this interest through loving action as we help them address these needs, culminating in mutual joy when these needs are met. This kind of encouragement can deepen relationships and discipleship in ways few others can.
A legacy of purpose
When we focus our lives on something bigger than ourselves and commit our strengths and talents to advancing its presence in the world, we experience greater energy from the sense of purpose it gives us.
Advancing the kingdom of God through discipleship is one of these causes we can commit our lives to. It can entail hard and seemingly unrewarding work, and during these times it may be tempting to cut a few corners for the sake of seeing tangible successes.
However, by persevering and remaining faithful to the process of discipleship God gives us, our sense of purpose can be strengthend as we experience progress in God’s timing.
In committing ourselves to making disciples and modeling Christ-like lives, we’ll find ourselves leaving a legacy of purpose others can emulate and advance further into the world.
A legacy of love
This is a legacy we often experience from those we’re closest to, such as our parents, relatives, best friends or others we’ve developed a close bond with.
In discipling others, we want to pass on the love we’ve been shown so it may emanate out to embrace the next generation and beyond. As we pour our life into another, it often requires taking a risk to love them as Jesus does us.
They may not always reciprocate, but in taking the risk to love them anyways we open ourselves to the potential gains of seeing them better understand faith, catch the vision for making disciples and go out to make disciples in their spheres of influence.
As we sow seeds of love, we will in time reap a harvest as it carries on through disciples into successive spiritual generations.
Leaving legacies of discipleship
As we go about engaging in discipleship, we have the opportunity to impart legacies others can pass on. As we seek excellence, encourage others, live with purpose and act out love, those we disciple are given the chance to observe and model these behaviours in their own lives.
When they’re ready to go out and begin discipling others, the legacy of influence you help instill into them will affect and guide the way they develop disciplemakers for the rest of their lives.