As we move quickly into the New Year, it seems prudent to share something that has been on my heart for a couple of years, and now I have words for, finally.
Some of you know that my tent making job is as an executive coach. I speak, train and work 1-1 with leaders in non-profit, government, private and public sectors in just about every industry imaginable. As I do those things, I have noticed a trend that troubles my heart.
Proverbs 13:22 states that “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” Another word for inheritance used in scriptures there is “legacy.” The concept of legacy pertains to that which will endure and extend beyond the lives of those who are gone.
However, as Christians, legacy is not something we are to solely pursue, but rather an overflow as something we leave. We are to pursue Christ and His kingdom and as we do, all “those things” will be added unto us. Sadly, what I am seeing is many incredible leaders working hard to primarily leave a financial legacy rather than mostly investing and exerting themselves in living out the gospel to leave a spiritual legacy, which can span all areas of life. I put forth here that as we live out the gospel, we leave Christ’s legacy of forgiveness, salvation and perfect love, to name a few. This formation of the “Christ in me, the hope of glory” legacy or our spiritual inheritance to pass on can supernaturally take place along with our daily and intentional cooperation. The lure of the world can be strong yet keeping our eyes on the day we stand before our Lord Jesus and give an accounting for our life, can help focus our intention.
What if we prioritize our energy to give precedence to sincerely and zealously live out the gospel of Jesus Christ every day? We are not promised tomorrow in this life, but we are to be stewards of what we have, today, as Christ’s ambassadors. What if your “Wheel of Life” goals for 2022 had a spiritual component listed at the top of each category– physical, emotional, financial, social, education, etc., rather than “spiritual” as its own stand-alone group separated from the whole?
Let me give you an example to help illustrate. Have you heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer? My guess is you have. Let’s take a quick look at his life achievements. He completed his doctoral thesis at age 21. Pretty impressive! His family hung out with the likes of Albert Einstein and Max Planck. His large family was substantial influencers in the sciences of neurology and psychiatry and lived a very comfortable life. Success by so many standards! Esteemed, educated, holding positions of high influence.
Yet, through voices such as Karl Barth’s, Dietrich began to be gripped by the gospel, Himself. Hitler’s rise serving as the backdrop for Dietrich’s holy unrest, he pursued God with his whole soul. In that journey, Dietrich came to realize in himself, that he must spend the rest of his days learning how to live out the Sermon on the Mount even to the cost of his own reputation, personal dreams of marriage and having a family, comfort and if necessary, his life. I imagine God was calling His entire church to arise against the evils of Hitler’s regime. Dietrich chose to say yes to this invitation as well as invite others to join him. He was not guaranteed anything. His sacrificial acts or agape love unfolded in costly ways. Sometimes the calling or vision is individual to you, however it can equally be an “all call” to the church body per Dietrich’s quote “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Dietrich co-founded and led ‘The Confessing Church’ in response to the politicizing of the evangelical church of the time, challenging believers to stand against Naziism. He had followers, but in the end, on Kristallnacht or the Night of the Broken Glass, when the Jews were terrorized, the Confessing Church was silent even after great pleas from Dietrich to speak out.
Later, he began a special seminary, Finkewalde to train up Confessing Church pastors. The seminary was itinerant in that he had to continue training in hiding. In the end, however, it is reported that over 50% of the seminary students wound up enlisting in Hitler’s army.
Although a self-proclaimed pacifist, he saw the need for Hitler to be executed. He was reportedly directly or indirectly involved in four assassination attempts, all of which failed. However, he was found connected to the last attempt, arrested and spent his remaining days in various camps. Eventually, and just one week prior to the allied troops invasion of Berlin, Dietrich was killed, hung, naked, and completely alone. The last words of the brilliant and courageous 39-year-old opponent of Nazism were “This is the end—for me, the beginning of life.”
I’ve been thinking about Dietrich a lot lately. Did he leave a legacy? What legacy did he leave? Was he trying to leave a legacy? He was trying to follow Christ with his whole heart, mind and soul “for such a time as this” during WWII. That’s it. That’s all he was doing. Failure after perceived failure could not prevent him from clinging to the Gospel Himself. He wasn’t thinking about numbers or impact or making a name for himself. He was thinking about how to be Jesus to those that the world hated, sacrificing his life because of his love for those Jesus loved. The legacy of Christ was lived out in Dietrich’s life.
My friends, each day, we wake up with a fresh opportunity to live the gospel, making it personal, practical and effectual. Who do we need to forgive? Who do we need to share the gospel with? What is the Lord trying to speak to us that we cannot hear because we do not slow down long enough to listen? Who of our neighbors is hurting? Where is God calling us to intervene, humbly yet boldly? Are our knees bruised and achy from the deeply intimate work of intercession? What does this look like in your current season of life – or as it relates to our current state of affairs in this world and our country?
These humble questions spawn from a humble gospel, which course corrects my inflated ego craving measurable results that leave nothing of eternal durability.
In 2022, this will be my focus. I’m not building, saving, increasing, expanding, – you name it! I’m simply living; living the gospel. Today, as I train as a good soldier does, I may only have stamina to live the gospel for three minutes. Tomorrow, I hope to build my faith to live it four minutes. By the end of this year, I hope that my stamina has increased such that all that I am living is from Him Who lives in me. What will it look like for you to live out the gospel in 2022?
Learning what it means to be an Overcomer with you,
Founder, Promised Land Living