Legacy Conscious Living

Posted on October 14, 2019

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Legacy Conscious Living

by Pastor Afolabi Oladele

There are 3 definitions for the word legacy. One definition says “the inheritance that you get from your parents;” this could be a gift, especially money or a building, or something that is willed to you. A second definition says, “Something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or a predecessor;” it may or may not be money. The third definition is very interesting. For instance your father is a member of Lagos Tennis Club and you want to get into Lagos Tennis Club and you are given preference for you to join because your father has been a member.

Stephen Covey, an author whose book I read many years ago and have recommended to many, said something very interesting about legacy. He said, assume that you’re at your own funeral (death can take anyone, it doesn’t matter whether you’re old or young) and you’re watching the proceedings going on around you, what would you like people to say about you? What would you like people to remember about you? If you were a father what would you like your wife and children to remember about you? If you were a young man what would you like your friends to say or to remember about you? This is one dimension of legacy—whatever people remember about you, the way you lived your life.

The Lord gave me a new understanding of legacy which I find very interesting. In John 17:4-6 Jesus said, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.”

In the above Scripture God the Father sent Jesus to accomplish an important work.  There are three parties involved here but only one is central. First, is the sender, the Eternal God; He is the central person and He represents a frame of reference that everyone who desires to live a legacy-conscious life must have. Without this frame of reference, living a legacy conscious life would not be achievable. And in choosing a frame of reference, it must have characteristics of being unchangeable or incontrovertible.

Secondly, Jesus was assigned to do a work of revealing the Father to men. And Jesus could boldly testify that He had done it. You need to understand that legacy is actually accomplishing the purpose that has been committed to you, and handing over the baton to others for them to follow through. That is the way the Bible defines legacy.

Psalm 22:30 and 2 Timothy 2:1-2 explains legacy as: “A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.” . . . “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” Legacy is something that you get from an unchangeable frame of reference, which you then pass on to others to continue with it.

Speaking about the mustard seed inMark 4, Jesus pointed out the critical elements of legacy-conscious living: “And he said, whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it. (Mark 4:30-32).

For a mustard seed to grow, it must demonstrate a characteristic of willingness; a submission to allow growth to happen. If the seed constrains itself, it would not grow! Jesus also spoke about the parable of the sower, pointing to the importance of fruitfulness. Some of the seeds yielded thirty-fold, some sixty-fold and some a hundred-fold. Capacity is the word that describes the process of going from seed to fruit. So I challenge you to exploit the capacity that is in you. Whatever your category—thirty, sixty a hundred fold—it’s your capacity to allow God to work in you to bring forth your fruitfulness. Your fruitfulness has nothing to do with money, it has to do with what God counts as fruitfulness.

Elements of Legacy

  1. A frame of reference
  2. Submission and willingness,
  3. Capacity and Fruitfulness.

Having a Frame of reference, submission and willingness, capacity and fruitfulness; all of these are components that are important in a legacy conscious living. And it is not just important to have a frame of reference, but to have the right frame of reference—an incontrovertible and unchanging frame of reference.

A notable motivational speaker once said this about the biggest mistake people make in life. He said, “The biggest mistake is you think you have time. Time is free but it’s priceless. You can’t own it but you can use it. You can’t keep it but you can spend it. And once it’s lost you can never get it back.” So I say to you: “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life!” I don’t want you to forget that. Stop letting others dictate your life and the use of your time. Even if you are an average student, you will do well if you give appropriate time to your studies. In my own case I was smart and I had always been intelligent, but I was not doing well because I was joking with my studies. By the time I did my WAEC exams, I did so well that I got a bursary to go to the university, just by a single decision to change my behavior. By the time my bursary year was over (it was for one year), I was among the top ten in Nigeria and I got a scholarship. My parents did not pay a dime other than my pocket money.

Time flies, you are the pilot, not your friends, not your parents; you are your own pilot. Today, the mobile phone is a technology that has taken the time, indeed, the lives of many youths away from them. You are the one to define your time and your relationships. Nobody can waste your time except you allow them to. You have 24hours in a day and you are the one who determines how it will be spent.

We are all influenced by several things around us. But whatever influences you by impulse or that dictates your behavior, there is a space in between that you are in control of, and that is what I call responsibility. Responsibility is a combination of two words—RESPONSE and ABILITY. Your response is your ability to choose what you want to happen. But too many of us give up our freedom to choose. I want you to know that you have that response-ability; you can make the choice that will influence the outcome of your life.

An example of your response-ability is what Jesus said in Matthew 5:39 about turning the other cheek when someone slaps you. In between the slap and you turning the other cheek, something tells you to pay back in the same coin. That is the kind of trigger that we need to take charge of. You need to stand in between the person who slaps you and your desire to slap the person back. The only way to do that is to be sure you exercise that freedom to choose, and there are four things you need which are: self-consciousness, self-awareness, imagination, and an unchangeable frame of reference. Nobody else has the response-ability to determine what you should do. You are the only one who can determine it. And if the frame of reference you have chosen is one of physical instability, you are the one who would suffer for it. Always remember that between stimulus and response, is the freedom to choose.

Consider the case of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. Day after day, she pestered Joseph with sexual allures until she had to grab his clothes. What would have been your choice? But Joseph had a frame of reference which is reflected in his words: “How can I do this evil against my master, who has put everything in my control, how can I sin against God?” In between the stimulus (Potiphar’s wife) and his response of giving into whatever she wanted, Joseph had a frame of reference that determined his choice, and he exercised that choice by his refusal to sleep with her.

Another example is that of Daniel and the other Hebrew boys in Babylon. Believe me, Nebuchadnezzar was a man that loved the youths. He brought youths from different countries and enrolled them in the “University of Babylon”. He gave them access to sumptuous meals and classy treatment. In between the stimulus of affluence and the response of taking advantage of it, Daniel and his friends had an incontrovertible form of reference—the God of Israel—they would not defile themselves with the food of a pagan king. They exercised their freedom of choice, based on a frame of reference and values that do not change.

You need to get to a point where you can make a difference by putting your response-ability into action so that your response is not determined by the stimulus. This will only be possible when you have chosen the right frame of reference, which must be something or a value that does not change with time. If you are going to make a positive difference in your life, here are five key elements that you need which can be gleaned from the life of Jesus:

  1. Humility: Jesus was humble. Although He is the creator of all things, Jesus chose to be born in a wretched place. In fact, it was by chance that they got a place to birth Him in a manger. He did not even have crib. If you want to make a difference and influence your generation, then humility is very crucial for you to have.
  2. Dependence: Jesus was totally dependent on God. Jesus often said that he does nothing than what He sees His Father doing. You need to always go back to your point of reference. And ensure that what God asks you to do become your crucial point of accomplishment.  Legacy, according to the Bible, is not what may be lauded about men and women, but what may be credited to God; God being your frame of reference. King David left a legacy that he served God in his own generation.
  3. Focus: Those who are legacy-conscious should understand that they will be tested. The friends you abandoned when you surrendered to Christ will test you. So you need to be focused in the way Jesus was.   
  4. Patience: There is no impossibility for anyone who is legacy conscious. Instead of giving up on yourself claiming, “that’s just the way I am” you can choose a different approach in other to achieve the things that will make you leave a good legacy.
  5. Decision: You must get to a point of decisionas to whether you want to make a difference in life, and go for it.

I want to teach you a principle I found that runs through the Scriptures; it is the principle of double creation; in other words, everything is created twice.

Looking at Genesis 1:24-25: “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good”;

And Genesis 2:9: “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”

We see that in chapter one, God was speaking out what was in His heart, while in chapter 2, He was actualizing what He had in mind. The first reference to creation is in the mind. So I tell you: Your first creation is in your mind! You have to have a plan, an imagination, a picture or a dream. Imagination is very powerful. If all you’re imagining in your heart is that you will be a failure, that is what you would be! Why do you think Joseph ran away from Potiphar’s wife? He remembered His dreams! Although he may not have fully understood them, the imagination was in his heart, that someday he was going to be great and a ruler of his people!

Take the construction of a house for example, you have to create it in every detail by developing or drawing a plan before it is built. That’s exactly how creation is; everything is created twice; first in your mind, then in reality.  (See Proverbs 24:27).

Decide today to live with the consciousness of passing on a good and godly legacy. Decide today that your legacy will not be erased like a writing upon the ground (See Jeremiah 17:13). Choose to let your frame of reference be based on the values of the eternal God. Choose a legacy-conscious life!

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