As a leader in this generation you hold the destiny of the next generation in your hands. In other words, their future depends on the legacy that you create and the heritage that you leave behind.
A legacy is something that is built; it’s not something that ‘just happens.’ As you build, the fruit of your legacy will become a harvest that is reaped by a future generation. The benefit is not for you; it’s for those who come after you, but the harvest they reap then, depends on what and how you sow now.
What follows are some critical choices you should make today, in order for your legacy to influence destiny tomorrow.
1. Choose a Future Focus rather than a Now Focus
A Now focus is characterized by
- Looking out for Self
- Striving to achieve Position
- Seeking avenues for Getting
A Future focus is characterized by
- Looking out for Others
- Striving to accomplish Purpose
- Seeking opportunities for Giving
When it’s all about you and about what can benefit you now, it’s likely that your legacy will die when you die.
2. Choose Accomplishment rather than Affirmation
Everybody likes to be recognized/approved but the glow of feeling good is not a substitute for living out your true potential. When affirmation becomes a motivating priority, it can easily cause you to:
- Mold and tailor your ministry in a way that pleases man
- Behave and perform in a way that you know will get approval from man
- Formulate the ‘right’ answers and say the right things to impress man
The test of a man is not when he plays the role he wants for himself, but when he plays the role destiny has for him.
Alternatively, you can decide that regardless of what men say, and regardless of whether you get affirmation from man
- You heard what God said
- You will obey what God said
- You will accomplish something meaningful for God
3. Choose Future Potential over Financial Gain
Financial gain can become a very powerful motivator, when day after day, things are hard, and you are trusting God just to get by. Decisions motivated by money normally bring short term relief, but also have only short term benefits.
- Seek ways to invest in people rather than how to get something from people
- When you add value to people you are investing in their future potential
- Money always flows to where needs are being met
4. Choose Personal Growth over Immediate Pleasure
Outside of you growing personally, there is no guarantee of you leaving a meaningful heritage for the future. Growing requires the discipline of setting aside what is comfortable in order to do what is necessary.
- Take responsibility for your own personal growth. Others cannot do it for you and others cannot be held accountable if you do not grow.
- No matter how small your town/church/ministry may be, there is no place that is too small for you to grow.
- Grow to become someone, not to acquire something.
- Stay out of your comfort zone. You cannot grow unless you try something you have not yet mastered, so try something new, do something you have not done before, learn a skill you do not have.
- Hang around growing people. If you want to know the direction you are going, look at your closest associates. You are going in the same direction they are.
- Have a personal plan that includes daily growth steps. If you want to change your life, you have to change something you do each day.
5. Choose your Christian Walk over your Christian Work
What you become is more important than what you do. Consequently, your walk with God is more important than your work for God.
The legacy you leave tomorrow will come out of the investments you make today. Each choice you make is a deposit in the destiny of the generation that will come after you. Start ……… by making some of the smaller choices today. They will help you to make the big choices tomorrow.
It’s almost the end of another year and the Christmas season is upon us once again. As we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ over Christmas time, something we should not forget or neglect is to also celebrate the grace of God that comes through Jesus.
“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
This short verse creates the understanding that the opposite of grace is law. This is of course true. However, a more accurate “opposite” of grace is “self sufficiency or independence.”
It is when we strive and stress to live for God by:
- doing more
- praying more
- giving more
- fasting more
- sacrificing more
- depending on our own self-effort to work our way into God’s favor.
The Old Testament book of Zechariah paints the picture which follows:
“So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. “What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘Grace, Grace,’ to it’” Then the word of the LORD came to me: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you.”
Zerubbabel’s task was to rebuild the temple but a mountain, which blocked his progress, hindered him. God told Zerubbabel that he was not going to move the mountain by his own might or power. It could only be moved by God’s Spirit. God would shout, “Grace, Grace,” to it and the mountain would become level ground.
This could be a picture of your life.
- God wants to build the temple of His presence in you.
- The mountain represents anything that hinders this.
- It could be sin, a bad habit, some form of character weakness or any area of your life that you know is not pleasing to God.
- How often have you tried to pretend it is not there?
- How often have you become discouraged and felt like you are disappointing to God because no matter how hard you try, nothing works?
- Maybe you have even given up, become tired of trying, become tired of failing and said something like, “God I quit!!!”
At that point God says, “I’ve been waiting for you to say that. You don’t have the strength, but I do. You don’t have the power, but I do. You can’t move the mountain, but I can.” And then God shouts. He doesn’t shout at you. He doesn’t say, “Do better, try harder, give more, etc.” He shouts at the mountain, “Grace, Grace,” and He levels the mountain by doing in you what you cannot do yourself.
Self-effort does not have what it takes to move that thing, but the grace of God, through the Spirit of God, has all that it takes.
Grace is God doing in you what you are not able to do yourself.
Grace is the exact opposite of independence.
Grace is the cure for self-sufficiency.
Celebrate the grace that comes to us through Jesus Christ.
All of us live our lives according to values. The values we hold to, determine what we believe, what we think, how we act and what priorities we have. Values may differ from person to person, because different people place different emphasis on different things. However, the things people emphasize and give priority to, will generally reveal what values they have.
What about God? Does he have priorities? Are there some things in our lives to which He would give more emphasis than others? Would it help us if we understood what some of these might be?
Jeremiah 9:23-24 (emphasis added)
“This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts, boast about this: THAT HE UNDERSTANDS AND KNOWS ME.”
This passage indicates that understanding and knowing God is more important than wisdom, strength or riches. It’s not so much an issue of right or wrong, good or bad. It’s an issue of what is more important – on what does God place higher value?
Here are some of my thoughts about things on which God places higher emphasis:
- God places higher value on changing us than on charming us
God is good and God does good. As much as He desires to pour gifts blessings and good things into our lives, He desires more to shape and change our lives. What He does in us is more important than what He does for us. Instead of just seeking experiences with God that will charm us, should we not rather seek encounters with God that will change us?
- God places higher value on us being good than feeling good
Modern society teaches us to behave in ways that make us feel good. If everybody is doing it and it makes us feel good, then it must be OK. We measure our morals and standards against those of other people, and it makes us feel good when we are ‘not as bad as’ or ‘better than’ the next person. The Bible says “Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1). God desires that we be like Him, not just better than someone else.
- God places higher value on us being a blessing than receiving a blessing
The Bible says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35). Jesus’ example was to serve, rather than be served. God’s promise to Abraham was, “…. I will bless you………and you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2) What if, instead of exercising faith for God to bless us, we exercised faith to be a channel of blessing to somebody else.
- God places higher value on us being relevant than on being religious
People do not care how much we know until they know how much we care. The Bible puts it this way; “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:14-17) It may be the religious thing to say to people, ‘I will pray for you, God bless you,’ but it’s the relevant thing to do something about their practical needs.
- God places higher value on helping us than on hurting us
God is not against you. He is for you. He is not an enemy who is out to get you. He is a Father who loves you unconditionally. Rather than running from God, let us run to Him – to seek His help and enjoy His love.
“The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed….the LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love…..He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities, for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him…..as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;” (Psalm 103:6-13)
He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.”
Seeds carry within themselves, the potential of greatness that is yet to be. A crucial ingredient for a seed to fulfill its potential is to be planted in the right soil.
In many ways, dreams and visions are like seeds. A dream or vision contains the ingredients of something that is unborn and is yet to come. A dream or vision must be protected and nurtured in order to produce its fruit, and like a seed, a dream or vision will die if it is not cultivated in the right environment.
- Be careful about who you share your dreams with
Joseph dreamed of what God had destined for him, but when Joseph shared his dream with his brothers, instead of being excited, they got jealous and angry. (Genesis 37). Not every body who hears your vision or dream will be as excited as you are. Some can’t bear the thought of you getting ahead, if they are not, so choose very carefully who you share your dreams with.
- The majority is not necessarily right
There are times when a majority of people will try to kill your dream. Joshua and Caleb had the dream of entering and possessing the Promised Land. It turned out, that of the twelve spies who saw the land, they were the only two who were determined to pursue the dream. (Numbers 13-14). Eventually the whole tribe of Israel was against them. They were overwhelmingly outnumbered – and yet the majority was wrong. We all need to pay attention to wise counsel, but there are times when the majority opinion must be weighed very carefully.
- There are people who will help you realize your dream
Nobody should ever be a lone ranger, and it is dangerous territory when you are out there all by yourself, chasing a dream. There are people who have a sense of destiny, who are excited about your future, and with whom you need to share your dream. Look for those who fulfill Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Are you satisfied with being an ordinary person?
- Do you generally feel happy when you have done what is necessary to get by, or just enough to stay out of trouble?
- Are you content with knowing that you have done what others expect from you?
- Most ordinary people are willing to do what others think is acceptable, necessary or expected.
Have you ever thought about being an extra-ordinary person?
“If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”
Jesus’ challenge is to go beyond what others expect, to do more than is necessary. Going the extra mile is to go above and beyond what ordinary people would do.
Why should you be satisfied with just keeping up with the crowd, when most of the crowd is only willing to go one mile? The challenge is not to gain on others, or even to keep up with others. The challenge is to outdo yourself. Be an extra-ordinary person and go the extra mile!!
Extra-ordinary people are not content to settle for average.
- Extra-ordinary people do not say, “How much can I get for the least amount of effort.”
- Extra-ordinary people do not say. “How little can I do and still get the maximum reward.”
- Extra-ordinary people go above and beyond the ordinary and put in just a little extra.
Extra blessing comes from just a little extra effort.
Those who follow Jesus are called to be imitators of God. Some of the words that the Bible attributes to God are, “more than enough, exceedingly, abundantly above, who gives liberally, exceeding riches of grace.” There is nothing ordinary and average about the God we serve and whose image we are called to reflect to the world.
- Decide to do a little more than is expected.
- Decide to do a little better than average.
- Decide to give a little more than is comfortable.
- Decide to serve a little more than what is normal.
- Decide to pray a little longer than what average people think is enough.
- Decide to care a little more than what average people think is wise.
- Decide to risk a little more than what average people think is safe.
- Decide to work a little harder than what average people think is necessary.
- Decide to dream a little bigger than what average people think is practical.
- Decide to accomplish a little more than what average people think is possible.
Decide to go the extra mile!! It’s just a little further than what average people expect but it will make you an extra-ordinary person in an ordinary world.