My husband and I formed a culture of thanksgiving in our home. Every night before bed, we ask three questions in reflection of our day: What was your high? What was your low? And, what are you thankful for? This practice has often put life in perspective, especially in tough seasons.
Last week was a particularly special week for my family; it was a week of many highs. Two families that we are close to, celebrated great milestones in their lives. One family celebrated a decade of ministry and the other completed a project that was dear to their hearts for many years.
In observing both families and various other individuals who have continued to lead with integrity, there seems to be a common thread in how they navigate through personal and ministry situations. How we lead consistently, determines the kind of legacy we leave. Here are a few points we can reflect on as we think about finishing well.
1. Family is your first ministry
In 1st Timothy 3:4-5 and Titus 1:6, Paul emphasizes how important it is for a minister to manage his own family well. He underscores this by asking: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?”
Many times, the felt needs of the church or a job situation may be overwhelmingly numerous. However, no matter what capacity you are engaged in, in your work, you have to determine to keep your family first. If your family is in shambles, you will not be able to minister effectively.
Your first ministry should be to woo, take care of and pray for the family that God has called you to. This requires you to be present and all-there. Being present means that you train your child in the way that he should go (Proverbs 22:6), and love your spouse the way Christ intended (Ephesians 5:22-28). If your family is miserable because you do not spend adequate time with them, could it be time to rethink the extent of your involvement at work?
2. Accountability in all seasons
As believers, we are accountable to God (Romans 14:12) as well as to the body of believers. When we remove ourselves from that accountability, it is easy for Satan to attack us with devastating results.
Remaining accountable enables us to become increasingly aware of areas of weakness and strength. These relationships allow for affirmation, encouragement, instruction and correction (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
Accountability can also be present in mentor-mentee relationships. Allowing your protégé’s to give you feedback about the effectiveness of your leadership style matures you as a leader. In addition, great leaders are not afraid to share their knowledge and life experiences with their protégé’s. An effective leader understands that they have accomplished greatness only when they have enabled the next generation leader to be better than they are.
3. Outdo each other in honor
One characteristic I have observed in great leaders is their ability to honor those around them regardless of socio-economic status. Taking the example of Jesus who was born in Nazareth, a small town that is said to have been poor and backward, Jesus chose to make his in-group a band of unpolished fishermen, tax collectors, and religious zealots. He did so, so that no one could boast.
In the same way, great leaders do not think of themselves more highly than those they lead, but honor others above themselves (Romans 12:10b). In the aforementioned verse, Paul states, “outdo one another in showing honor” (ESV), reminding us that if ever there was a time to compete in the body of Christ it should be in how we honor each other.
“The true test of honor, therefore, is how we treat those whom we have nothing to gain from” (Barak Al’Mondia).
“Simplicity is the only thing that sufficiently reorients our lives so that possessions can be genuinely enjoyed without destroying us.” Richard Foster. Wealth is temporal, so is fashion and so are gadgets. For us to finish well, we must use wealth to benefit our families and those around us. We must view money as a means to an end and not the end itself. Yes, live in a lavish home if you want, drive an expensive car if you can, but by no means should you allow these to become the focal point of your life, derailing you from right relationships with God and people (1st Timothy 6:10). Remember that all the gifts God gives us are for our good and benefit. God desires to use your wealth to bring glory to His name.
There are a myriad of points I could add to this list. However, I would like to hear from you. What are you doing to ensure that the legacy you leave is one of honor that glorifies God and blesses those you lead?