As I have gone through my life in ministry there has been one phrase that is repeated to me often, with much conviction and it is something that I use to push myself through the day-to-day. That phrase is often expressed as a question like this, “What kind of legacy will you leave?”. It is those sorts of questions that shaped how I entered my first youth ministry position and how I act towards every youth director I interact with on a daily basis. Hopefully I leave a legacy of integrity, compassion, competency & helpfulness but you know I noticed something…the question has never been phrased, “Will you leave a legacy?”. You see the fact that you will leave one is assumed simply because your life, your job, your calling is dedicated to others. More specifically, dedicated to the most impressionable ‘others’ there are- young people.
So recognizing that IF we will leave a mark is not in question, what mark we leave is at the heart of the matter. If we don’t remind ourselves of this from time to time it is easy to slip into the mundane of the day-to-day and it becomes much easier to lose our temper, let deadlines slip and maybe not practice that message as much as it should be before programs. I’m afraid I missed the mark slightly in my first ministry position not by leaving a bad legacy but by leaving the wrong one. By that I mean, in my everyday I wanted the teens to see Christ in me. A wonderful, worthwhile goal as long as you can be willing to cut off the last two words of that sentence. That is the trap I want us to avoid. The focus on Us.
People will continue to look up to you as long as you make it a habit to look up to who’s worth looking up to.
When we or our young people move on there must be no question as to the author of the memories and moments we shared. When writing a lasting impression on a young person’s heart and life with a permanent marker; we better make sure Jesus’ mark is more legible than our own. I love people. I think most of those young people from years past would honestly tell you that I sincerely cared about each and every one. But when I allow our relationship to come before their relationship with Christ, we’ve taken a step too far. This is a condition of the heart issue. It may not seep outside of the confines of your own mind. So just make sure that Christ’s mark is being left more prominently than your own. When we recognize this and make it a priority, every-day tasks take on a new meaning. It sets the bar just a little higher. Everything is presented with the pretext of making the mark of Christ on the young people’s lives you minister.