There’s something special about watching somebody finish something they started. We love attending graduations so we can watch a 4-year journey end with one walk across the stage and a handshake. At weddings we replay the couples fights, breakups, and makeups in our heads that all were a part of the journey that led them to an altar where they stand presently intently gazing into each other’s eyes taking vows of permanency before God and man.
Even in watching sports we take joy in watching hours of other people competing for a prize that we’ll never earn or hold ourselves just because we appreciate the capstone of the "story" season will have when its over.
But when it comes to ministry pastors, do we not realize that they eyes of our spouses, children and parishioners are watching us? I mean, we know they’re watching, but perhaps we’re assuming we’re not considering their intentions for watching. Sure, like with all spectators, you’ll have your hecklers that will yell things at you to get you off your game but that’s the minority of your viewing audience.
I’d like to challenge you to consider the broader audience that is actually cheering you on! The ones that pray for you when you’re up to bat in the pulpit, the ones who read through the notes they took from your sermon on Monday while God the Holy Spirit does His work of transformation in their life.
In your moments of frustration, it's easy to give in to the assumptions of your flesh and think that the majority of those who are looking at you are hecklers, when in reality they’re not. I’m convinced that its in those moments that God is building up legacy leaders in our city's churches. Legacy leaders are those men who God provides a unique measure of grace to weather many storms in order to not only start faithfully but to finish strong.
If you are in a season of life where you are feeling weak, I pray God would encourage you by showing you His placement of these four qualities of a legacy leader in your life:
Many men in our cities start faithfully, but legacy leaders finish strong. They stay when others leave and endure when others abandon. God the Holy Spirit provides them with the supernatural ability to remain, because He remains in them (e.g. Romans 8:9-13).
Legacy leaders stand for truth when others fall for false doctrine. Legacy leaders show courage when they stand up and speak out against heresy while lovingly shepherding the hearts of the saints God has called them to care for. It takes courage to care for people who initially don’t care much for God’s word.
A legacy leader observes the environment they serve in and respects it’s history. At the same time, he works to reestablish a rhythm of holiness that was once there pre-fall. This is hard work that is only accomplished when the body at-large is mobilized to live lives in harmony with God’s mission within the context of their local church. The legacy leader models for them what this looks like.
Perhaps the most important quality a legacy leader is his ability to remain contrite when he is wrong. I believe that the best teachers are the ones who are teachable. When a leader receives correction and is both open and repentant it encourages those who follow him to follow his example of humility more closely than before.
We’ve all heard, “the race is not to the swift” (Ecc. 9:11) and Paul’s final words, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). My prayer is that we will be able to finish our races by crossing the finish line strong in front of the audience in glory that is cheering us on (Heb. 12:1) and those on this side of eternity following in our footsteps.
Lead them well, my brothers!