I’ve been thinking a lot about legacy. Our radio network turns 50 years old this year, and we are having a huge celebration this October. We are bringing back many of our previous directors, including a now 90-year-old former professor from Colorado. I remember how he insisted I attend his speech class at 7:30 a.m. every morning — an ungodly hour for a college student!
I’ve come to realize that each of us is building a legacy, whether we realize it or not. Regardless of age or sphere of influence. Every personal interaction, every email, every tweet, like or post adds to your body of work that will reverberate generationally through the lives of listeners, friends, family, co-workers and associates.
The Apostle Peter wrote in his first epistle about legacy. In chapter 4, he says: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:10–11).
Several years ago, when I was speaking in Seattle at a luncheon, I was sharing about our media mission work in South America. I referenced Earl and Gladys as the pioneers of the work in Brazil, not knowing they were in the audience that day.
As the luncheon concluded, Earl approached me with a bear hug. I was surprised, of course, when I found out who he was. His legacy was legendary in South America. Both in their early 90s then, they had devoted 40 years to ministering in the Portuguese-speaking world as missionaries. After talking for several minutes, he and Gladys invited me to their house, provided for them in retirement and just across the street.
As I sat in Earl and Gladys’ modest living room, surrounded by little treasures from their years in Africa and South America, we talked about the differences of missionary life from decades ago and today. Waiting months for a letter to arrive versus instantaneous Skype calls. Walking to the docks with children and suitcases in hand for the weeks-long voyage across the Atlantic versus the direct flight from Buenos Aires to Chicago. And so much more.
As the afternoon went on, Earl became quiet. Tears began to well up in his eyes. Then he asked me, “How’s the church?” I was proud to report to him that the church in Brazil is vibrant, alive, ever-expanding and winning people for Christ. A young boy named Aguiar — whom Earl had influenced while ministering in Rio de Janeiro — is now pastoring a powerhouse church of 16,000 people.
We talked all afternoon, not noticing that the sun had set and suppertime was approaching. I cherish that afternoon. Both Earl and Gladys have passed on to their eternal reward. Their legacy of faith is still very much alive in the lives of thousands in Africa and South America — and in my life as well.
According to Susan Gaddis, a Spiritual Legacy Coach, your legacy consists of the following:
1. The stories and first hand observations of how you responded to life’s difficulties.
2. How you celebrated, how you worshipped.
3. How you prayed.
4. How you made a difference in the lives of others.
5. How you conquered your bad attitudes and habits.
6. How you handled disappointments.
7. What you did with your finances.
8. How you talked about people.
9. How you treated your family and others.
What will your legacy look like? What are the stories of God in your journey? How will those in your sphere of influence know what were treasures and what were toys in your life? Will they understand what was surface and what was substance in your experiences?
How will they know the God who wants to walk their paths with them?
A legacy — for an individual, for a ministry or for your radio station — should be a clear record of your walk of faith, communicating that living for Jesus and being empowered by His grace are more than enough.
GM at Shine.FM Network