So what do Mother Teresa, George Bush, Chris Brown, Katie Price, Martin Luther King and Kate Middleton have in common? They are all leaving, or have left, a legacy of some kind amongst millions of people. The things they do, the things they say… it’s all leaving a lasting impression on those around them and those around the world. For some they have left a good mark on people’s lives. For others, the mar they have left isn’t so great.
It’s easy to think that those in high positions like government or banking, or those who are famous are the ones that leave the greatest impact on us. But actually… when I think about it, none of those people are directly in my life and so the question comes up:
Who is having an impact on me? Who am I having an impact on?
What is a legacy? The word legacy or legend may conjure up images of King Arthur and the Round Table, or Robin Hood, or some tale of old that’s been passed down the centuries… But a legacy is literally the story and the impact one person leaves with another person when they go their separate ways. Maybe these people are friends going their separate ways to university, maybe one of these friends has moved away, maybe a friend has died. The bottom line is people are forever coming in and out of our lives and so I come back to the question:
What impact am I having on those around me? What impact are they having on me?
Eveything about us: our decisions; our passions; our attitudes; our beliefs; our discipline (or lack of); our selfishness; our sin; our mistakes; our way of handling conflict, anger, patience, stress; our faith (or lack of); our realness (or lack of); our acts and words of kindness towards others… Whether we recognise it or not, we are shaping the people around us. The examples I just mentioned, along with many more I haven’t mentioned, all influence the impact we have on people and the legacy we leave with them. Our legacy.
Daniel 12:3 tells us, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”
If we really think about it… having a positive impact on someone and leaving behind a good legacy of ourselves it’s a huge responsibility. Somehow we have to make our stories count. No longer are we just trying to get through the day, complete our chores, succeed in education or in our career, and help our families… Now we have to make sure we’re leaving a good legacy too?! Awesome! Talk about overwhelming! I mean, where do you even start with that?! But there’s another way to look at it. We can either try to create a legacy of our own… or we can be apart of God’s legacy.
Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart, I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
The truth is, God loves us and has a purpose for me and you here on Earth; which is to demonstrate His love to others around us. But here’s the thing, God not only created us with a purpose for our lives before we were even born, He’s created us uniquely and gave each of us a unique plan on how to show others His love for them. He gave us all unique skills, dreams, passions, strengths… and He knows those qualities more so than what we do ourselves. What that effectively means is you and I are not mistakes; and we all have a unique way of leaving a positive impact on others. He knows our qualities, He knows how we can use them to leave this positive impact on others, and He has complete confidence is our ability to do that well!
But it’s down to us whether we trust Him with our lives; whether we allow Him to speak to us about our lives; and whether we allow Him to guide us on the decisions we make. It’s only when we allow God into our lives like this can we maximise the greatness of the impact we have on each other. Let me give you an example:
A couple years ago it was on my heart to wash someone’s feet. I have no idea why, especially because I’m not a big fan of feet. I was at camp and all week I was praying for God to show me whose feet I should wash. One night the girls had “Girl Talk” and the subject had been on self image. It had been a very intense and powerful time for many of the girls and as I sat listening to them pray amongst each other I felt God saying to me, “These are the people whose feet I want you to wash.” And so I did. For many of the girls, the impact of God using me to wash their feet has stuck with them years later.
God created me with a passion to love people, a dream to see healing, a skill in serving, and a love of being apart of a greater purpose. God aligned my heart and the qualities I have with His heart and He enabled me to be apart of His legacy. Not only that, by me choosing to help Him create His legacy, He blessed me with having a legacy of my own within His legacy.
God gave us 5 senses; sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. But you know what, He gave us a sixth sense too, our spirit. Sometimes we can speak into each others lives by chance, by guessing… We see someone having a bad day so we do something nice for them. But if we walk with the Holy Spirit then the Holy Spirit can actually reveal to us the things we can do or say to others on a supernatural level. What do I mean? God knows the lives of those around us, He knows the things you need and the words you need to hear. If I’m walking closely with Him then He can directly and specifically say to me “Hey Akila, I want you to give this to Carla” or “I want you to say the following words to Arthur.”
Here’s the catch though. We all must individually know God before we can show Him to others.
Who is God?
A couple weeks ago I had a weekend away with our youth and we looked at God’s character… But since then I’ve had several conversations with many of them and it seems to be that we often question God’s love for us. Even to the point of questioning if He is to some degree punishing us in some situations. In order to show others the love God has for them, we really need to know God’s love for ourselves.
Who is God? Does He love me?
Let me ask you a question: What makes you feel loved by God?
For me, I feel loved by God when He gives me what I need without me asking for it. Or when He notices the small things in my life and cares about the details that no on else seems to care about. There was one time I was really struggling with loneliness and I was sitting in church thinking “God do you even see me?” And all of a sudden pastor says from the front, “Akila, God wants you to know He loves you.”
Let me ask it again: What makes you feel loved by God?
Spend some time thinking about this! What legacy are you leaving? Do you know God loves you? How do you know that? How are you going to show others God loves them? But just to summarise, we’re all leaving a legacy. We can have our own legacy or have a legacy within God’s legacy. In order to have a great legacy we have to walk with God and be in tune with His heart. The more we get to know God and His heart, and the more we get to know ourselves, our skills/passions/strengths, the easier it is for us to align our hearts with His.