A couple of times a week I still like to play basketball (against my wife’s better judgment). I’m not as fast or agile as I once was and I take a little (okay, sometimes a lot) longer to recover than I used to. Nevertheless, it’s still a fun and good source of cardio. Once a game gets underway, someone on the sideline will call out “I’ve got next!” to claim the next match against the victors. Even when the players themselves do not know one another, there is a continuation of play.
In life, we need to be mindful of how we can continue to play the game even after our turn is over. The way we do this is by leaving a legacy. When I was 11 my dad passed away after a series of complications that began with sickle cell induced kidney failure. A significant portion of my life was spent watching him on dialysis and witnessing him return to the hospital time and time again. Eventually, his body could no longer deal with the pain and trauma of the illness and its repercussions.
Some years later my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said I wanted a dog tag to commemorate my father. The inscription on it reads, “1st born legacy.” I have a younger brother, which is why I wanted to clarify my legacy status. For whatever reason at that time in my life I had begun to think about who my father was and who that meant I could be. Even though I didn’t have the privilege of being groomed by him throughout my life, his DNA and many of his characteristics still run through my veins.
No one reaches his or her destination in life without the aid of others. Typically there are many people that influence us during the course of our lives. But what if we were intentional about how and to whom we left our legacy? The vision that God gives you is usually too big for you to complete in one lifetime. This means that you need someone or a group of someones who can continue the work that you have begun.
Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” I know this may come as a surprise but the vision is not for you! It is for those that come behind you…your kids, your employees, your disciples, your legacy! We are accustomed to walking into churches or companies and seeing their ‘vision statement’ prominently displayed. The importance of having a clear vision is evident in its prevalence. The person or organization that attempts to exist or lead without clear vision is destined to fail or fall short. Therefore, a couple of years ago I decided to apply this logic at home and wrote out a family vision. I believe our families are more important than any business, ministry or organization we are a part of, yet we seldom apply the same guiding principles that have made those institutions successful. One of the best things you can do for your family or for those you disciple is to provide them with a clear vision.
In order for legacy to be sustained, a clear vision is a necessity. Additionally, it’s most beneficial for the leader or visionary to be able to transfer the vision through time spent with whoever will carry on the legacy. In Matthew chapter 4 Jesus is tempted in the wilderness. Matthew 4:17 records His vision statement and the announcement of His purpose. It reads, “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ The very next verse records Jesus calling out His 12 disciples – those that would become His legacy. Jesus’ first act when starting His ministry was to create a legacy! He desired to create a plan of succession.
Unfortunately, far too many only start to think about their legacy when their time on earth is nearing an end. Think about how much more impactful it would be if legacy comprised more of our lifelong thoughts and endeavors. You have to be intentional about building a legacy. Our success in building our legacy ensures that our purpose and vision don’t die with us. In the end, someone else will get to tell your testimony but you have every opportunity to write it for them.