What You Leave Behind…
Imagine, for a moment, that you were retiring from a career, or moving out of a town, or leaving a church community, or even just moving on to a new phase of life. If you could write a farewell address, what would it say? What would you want to say about your time there, that you’re now leaving behind? What impact would you be leaving behind in your wake?
Or, what would your legacy be?
In the men’s bible study this morning, we read the Apostle Paul’s farewell address to the Ephesian community (in Acts 20:17-38). It is a touching scene. He’s travelling by ship and unable to go all the way to Ephesus (probably because the last time he was there he, well…caused a riot!), and so he sent to have the Ephesian Christians meet him by the port. He delivers a farewell address to them, knowing it’s the last time he’d ever see them (and visa-versa), and amidst tears, they pray together, embrace, and say good-bye. For anyone who has left a beloved job, church community, or town behind, it is a familiar – and deeply moving – scene.
The amazing – and amazingly challenging – thing that hit me this morning as we discussed it was the idea of legacy. The legacy that Paul left behind, as you read the farewell address, is inspirational: he gave them all he had, he shared generously and without fear, he was selfless and caring, he loved them deeply, and left for them a shining example of following Jesus.
I imagine that, amidst the tears, he was proud of the impact he could have, and delivered the farewell address with little regret.
I want to be like Paul.
It caused me to pause and wonder: if I were to give a farewell address to my time as (fill in the blank), would I be similarly proud of the impact I had, and of the legacy I left behind?
My time as an engineer, or my work as a pastor, or my time in college, or my effort in raising 3 boys to become men, or the way I am a husband – if I were to draft a farewell address that summed up my efforts, the example I set, the work I put in – what would it be like?
What about you?
If you were to pick an area or a season of life (past or present) to write a farewell address to, what would yours be like? Would you be proud of it, or would you want to make some changes?
When I read Paul’s farewell address – about the clarity of his task (to share the good news of God’s grace), about him giving it his ‘all’, about the generous and Christ-like example he set, about the love he practiced – it makes me want to make changes now…so that when I do give a farewell address to (fill in the blank), I can be proud of my impact, and deliver it with my head held high to a group of people who’d cry about not seeing me again.
I want to encourage you similarly: think about the legacy that you’re creating now in the different areas of your life. Think about your impact, model, example, and so on. What are you leaving behind? What would your farewell address be like? Is it something you’d be proud of? If not, now is the time to make changes, and create a different legacy for God’s Kingdom.