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Leave a Lasting Legacy

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7th Sunday after Pentecost: July 23, 2017

Scripture: Ephesians 2:11-22 and Matthew 28:16-20

“Legacy is more than leaving possessions behind. It’s about investing in people with passion and integrity through leadership and love.”  ― Farshad Asl
(Author of “No Excuses Mindset” book and also a certified John Maxwell Leadership Coach, Teacher and Speaker).

What a wonderful definition of Legacy. There were many people in the bible who left a legacy. When we read the accounting in the bible of some of the people – we look from the outside in – and we can see that legacy sometimes starts with a Call to Leadership. The call to leadership is consistent in the bible. God calls on one man at different points in time to help fulfill his mission. Think about these men – Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Paul; God called specifically on these men to fulfill great tasks. God also calls on each of us to fulfill part of his vision and mission.

He expects us to use our own special talents and gifts. You may not yet realize the potential of your talent for use in God’s service. We can use our gifts, our leadership and our influence to carry out God’s mission.  You may think, “But I’m not a leader!” John Maxwell an American pastor, speaker and author writes, “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.” Jesus is our example – he was an influencer. Like Jesus, we can influence people in small ways, every day. Jesus inspired people to listen to him and to follow him. He did not have a personal agenda; he was not looking for fame or fortune. He used his influence and he sacrificed himself to bring all people together.

Paul writes, “For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall,” and he also writes, …  “that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross….”

In this piece, “Jesus himself as the cornerstone,” of the household of God. We are fellow citizens of the household of God. Two thousand years later His leadership style and legacy of servant leadership still impacts culture today. When my children were in elementary school they were taught to think, “What Would Jesus Do?” in various situations. In our children we try to instill the values of servant leadership that often define Jesus.

Think about your life today and your legacy. What words would your family and friends use to describe you? Kind, loving, helpful, impatient? You have another day to determine which words might be spoken.

If we look back over Jesus’ life, we can see he had a vision, a mission. Jesus included all people in his vision – a vision for man’s reconciliation with God. He was laser-focused on it and nothing detracted him from his purpose. He had clarity and he was crystal clear about his goal. The planning is not easy. In the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, I am reminded of the chapters – “Be proactive,” “Begin with the end in mind,” and “Put First things First.” Jesus did exactly that and we reap the benefit of his accomplishment. His planning and strategy may have resembled a SWOT analysis of his vision and mission: SWOT stands for the review of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of a plan.

Jesus’ mission
S – Strengths – 12 people on the team; a start for successors who will carry on the mission.
W – Weaknesses – How to bring peace to all? Many people have no exposure to God our Father. How to break down the barriers between people of different races and cultures and strive for unity?
Currently only a small group of men to spread the Word.
O – Opportunities – Plenty of opportunities to minister to all and talk about the kingdom of heaven. Use face to face contact. Mental note, include everyone regardless of political status, race or colour.
T – Threats; political leaders may feel threatened by this movement. People will have doubts – people don’t like change. Be persistent and focus on the result.

Jesus’ leadership style and ministry is still going strong today. His legacy lives within us. Jesus knew others would have to continue his ministry when he was no longer with them. We know of the men he first chose.
Jesus’ 12 disciples were ordinary men. Jesus did not ask the Leaders of the communities or people of influence to join his “team” and help achieve his mission. Some were fishermen. The disciples gave up everything to follow him. Would we be as willing if we were in their shoes?

Do we assume that we cannot continue the work of Jesus because we are just ordinary people? Jesus invested in his disciples and invests in us. He leaves us to carry on his work. Jesus continuously instructed his disciples to prepare for the future and not just through his words.  In Matthew 26 Jesus gave us the physical symbols of his body and blood represented by bread and wine. He also left us his words.

Jesus’ most influential leadership practice is that of servant leadership. He taught that we must be willing to serve others. He was willing to wash the feet of his followers. How willing are we? Jesus took time to slip away and pray. We can also take small frames of time to pray and ask for guidance, as we noted earlier in our prayers of Approach and Confession. He taught the disciples to “Do” as He did even though they may have thought they were not capable. He expected more from his disciples that they thought possible. Then He sent them out into the world leaving them to take ownership and responsibility to carry on the ministry. He didn’t follow and watch them. He trusted them to bring God’s Word to the people and asks us to do the same. We can do this in a number of ways – befriending new people to our country, our city or our congregation, sharing our resources with our Dayspring community; resources of talent, time or financial stewardship. Everything we do lays down another stone along our personal path and toward our legacy.

In Matthew’s reading today Jesus speaks to his disciples and tells them “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” Jesus lived his legacy every day. He lived to serve to others with compassion and loving kindness. Jesus leads us and guides us as we carry on his ministry.

John Wooden, former Basketball Coach at UCLA says, “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.’

As we move forward, remember Jesus’ words, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Amen

Copyright 2017 by Lorraine Wheatley
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