Many years ago I remember sitting in my office when the phone rang. It was a local solicitor informing me that an older lady had died and wanted the church which I pastored at the time to benefit her inheritance. Apparently she had worshipped in the church some forty years before her death. The solicitor told me to call at his office as he had a cheques written out for me to pick up. At the time I was excited because as a church we had been praying asking the Lord to provide for a large mission we had planned.
So as fast as my little legs could carry me I headed into town to go to the solicitors. Of course I was praying all the time – praying that the lady’s legacy would turn out to be a small fortune – well you would wouldn’t you!
When I got there the solicitor told me she had left the princely sum of £500 in total which was to be split between our church and another benefactor. We were to get £250 – not quite the fortune I had hoped for! But, I don’t think you would ever guess who she left the other £250 to. Well, believe it or not she left it to her ‘ Building Society’ for keeping her money safe! Yes it’s very true what they say, ‘there is nowt so funny as folk!’
I share this story simply because it fits in with the subject I want to talk about this month in Weavers Word, it’s the subject of legacy and lasting influence.
Now one Dictionary definition of the word legacy is this:
‘Something left or handed down by a predecessor.’
Here are a few quotes to do with Legacy.
“All good men and women must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine.”
~ Jim Rohn – (American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker)
“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
~ Benjamin Franklin – (A founding father of the USA)
The world with you in it will be a slightly worse or a slightly better place. You, and only you, can determine your legacy.
~ Doe Zantamata (Authoress)
“In the end we all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, The goal is to create something that will!”
~ Chuck Palahniuk (Journalist and Novelist)
“You need not worry how you will be remembered, instead focus on character, calling, conviction and compassion and your legacy will never be forgotten.”
Now there is a passage of scripture found in Judges 12 v 11 -12 that I particularly want to draw your attention to because it speaks about legacy.
In the book of Judges we learn about the life of a man called Elon.
In truth it would seem his was a wasted pitiful life. This man Elon actually held a very high and influential position in Israel during his day. He was a leading Judge! As they didn’t have any ruling Kings in Israel at the time, it was the Judge who sat in the seat of power in both military and civil affairs across the whole nation.
The Judge acted as the nation’s overall ruler. A presidential type of character. And there were always national spiritual implications in the decisions the judge would make.
Elon held this position of Power and influence for ten years – a whole decade! Now that’s a good amount of time to be in charge. You would have thought it would have been enough time to make at least some sort of difference for the good.
Now In this part of the book of Judges it lists and speaks a little of all of the Judges that ruled at that time. We are told things such as how long they Judged, something of each of their achievements and exploits. Sometimes we are told something of their families and even a little of what they had left behind them.
They are not spoken about in great detail but more often than not it gives enough information to at least give us a snapshot or insight into their life’s.
But how pitiful this guy, Elon’s epitaph is! Just check out verses 11 and 12
It consists of just 28 words. And in truth when it’s all broken down, only 10 of those words give us any tangible information concerning his life, death and burial.
It is almost as if the mention of Elon’s life and life’s work is nothing but a postscript – a passing comment, an incidental. It’s as if the writer has absolutely nothing noteworthy to say about Elon. There would seem to be nothing outstanding about this man’s life, his tenure or his family. Absolutely nothing whatsoever! There are no great exploits recorded, no significant achievements mentioned, nothing of notable good, nothing about his family. In fact it mentions absolutely nothing except the fact that he lived, he died and he was buried. Or in other words, He came! He achieved nothing! And he went and left – leaving nothing behind him!
To be frank, his insignificance and lack of influence clearly marks this guy out!
I suppose you could say ‘at least he got a mention’, but that’s not saying to much because all the Judges got a mention. And I suppose something in his favour is the fact that nothing bad is said about him. However, the point is, nothing of significance or lasting good is said about him either. He had no lasting influence. He seems to have left absolutely nothing behind him. No legacy whatsoever – as far as we know anyhow.
But don’t you think, after having 10 years of being in the most influential and powerful position in the land, he should have at least achieved something of significance and worth in his time. He should have, at least as a bare minimum had some sort of effect and impact in some area or other.
Here was a man who held ‘the key position’, ‘the prime position’, he had the opportunity, the resources, the time, the power and the authority but he obviously didn’t have the vision, passion, the inclination or the work ethic to make any real lasting difference. At best he was a maintainer and could never have be classed as a pioneer in any way.
Incidentally, his name means strong like an oak tree, I looked up the profile for a person who has the name Elon and this is what I discovered…
Apparently people with this name tend to have a deep inner desire to inspire others in a higher cause, and to share their own strongly held views on spiritual matters.
People with this name tend to initiate events, to be leaders rather than followers, with powerful personalities. They tend to be focused on specific goals, experience a wealth of creative new ideas, and have the ability to implement these ideas with efficiency and determination. They tend to be courageous and sometimes aggressive. As unique, creative individuals, they tend to resent authority, and are sometimes stubborn, proud, and impatient.
So much for the meaning of names!
The Elon we are talking about was anything but a strong leader. He displayed none of the above qualities in fact he was the exact opposite of what his name is supposed to mean. He didn’t seem to break any new ground at all.
You see the point I’m making is this – you can have the titles and you can have the position but this doesn’t necessarily mean you are effective and productive and impactful in taking and breaking any new ground for God! In truth at the end of the day, titles and badges mean very little, it’s testimony and the legacy we leave that matters. It is this that is the important thing.
Maybe Elon was lazy and simply couldn’t be bothered? Maybe he considered it all too much hassle! Anything for an easy life. Maybe he didn’t want the battles that are inevitable when you are endeavouring to make change and bring about real transformation.
Maybe He was selfish and just lived for himself and his own!
Maybe He didn’t get the right people around him?
Maybe he was clueless and just didn’t know what to do?
Maybe he feared what might have happened to him if he put his head above the parapet?
May be he lacked the necessary courage to bring about the type of change that was so desperately needed?
May be he was just the wrong man for the job!!
I am sure I won’t need to remind you that at the time of the Judges, this particular era was epitomised by a statement that is repeated a number of times in the Old Testament book of Judges – and it’s this.. ‘(in those days) every man did what was right in his own eyes!’ see (Chapter 17:6 and 21:25).
At a time when we are told everyone was doing what they thought was right in their own eyes, Elon during his watch, apparently did absolutely nothing to change and influence the situation for the good or to make it better. For whatever reason, he did absolutely nothing to challenge the status quo. So it could be argued that the people were exactly the way they were, living in utter self-centred-ness and in a sort of cultural anarchy because there was no clear, positive, visionary leadership and direction being given or offered by leaders such as Elon.
Elon as a leader could have done so much but he did nowt and as result left no lasting legacy for good. In fact he left Israel no better than when he came to power. He left no lasting influence for good – let alone a lasting legacy for God! How sad – How pathetic – You could say an opportunity squandered rather than an opportunity grasped!
May God prevent us from ending up like this!
I don’t know about you but in all this, I am challenged to do the work of ministry that God has called me to in such a way that it not only blesses and impacts this generation, and transforms the world God has put me in, (just like David who served the purposes of God in his own generation,) but I want that which God has called me to – to have a lasting influence. One that impacts the next generation and the one after that as well – should the Lord tarry! I guess everything within me longs to be a history maker for Jesus!
You know, God has created us to not finish like Elon did. God wants you and He wants me to finish well leaving a lasting legacy behind us!
I have no doubt that it is Gods Heart is to enlarge our understanding where significance, legacy, lasting influence, investment and eternity is concerned!
You know, it’s never too early and it’s certainly never too late to start working to leave a lasting Godly legacy. Pray about what good God would have you to leave behind you and be determined to commit yourself to making a sure and lasting influence that only you can make.
The truth is, God has created each one of us to make a difference and to have lasting influence. God’s heart for us is not for us to fizzle out when we leave planet earth but to finish well and to pass on that which he has entrusted to us.