We all hope to be remembered fondly, having made a positive and powerful impact on the people with whom we came in contact; we want to know we’re leaving a great legacy. After all, how we made people feel will be remembered long after we’re gone.
But when we make our legacy about people – about connecting, loving, nurturing others – it’s a legacy with longevity; it’s our living legacy.
As a leader, there is no greater way to build a living legacy, than by creating disciples – more specifically, mentoring others to create intentional disciples. For an Ephesians 4 Christian, it’s a three-birds-one-stone approach to building a living legacy.
Think of it like the law of conservation of energy in physics: If energy can neither be created nor destroyed – only changed from one form to another – the energy we create as leaders through our living legacy can then be transferred to mentees and disciples, creating a legacy that continues in perpetuity.
As with anything, however, there is a nuts-and-bolts practical application. It is as follows:
Be humble. Having all eyes on you every Sunday is an awesome responsibility. Everyone knows you, your name and looks to you for guidance, inspiration and leadership. But it also requires constant management and awareness of your ego. You can very quickly get swept up in the adulation of those that follow you, forgetting that really, they’ve come to you only to follow Christ.
But when a leader mentors someone, it helps quell any potential for a swelled ego because their focus is now on someone else – another person’s success, growth and future – in your role. It reminds you that while your faith is everlasting, the role you play is ultimately temporary.
Be a co-star. Along with humility comes the need to graciously share top billing. Sharing your shine – whether it be a literal stage or the management of the lighting equipment that provides the ‘shine’ – is an act of humility and grace. Much like taking the training wheels off your child’s bike, watching a mentee succeed gives them confidence, and by proxy, you the warm-and-fuzzies. It’s a win-win for all.
Be collaborative. ‘Teamwork makes the dream work.’ Cheesy? Sure. True? Absolutely. It may not always be easy, and the process of collaboration may prove awkward and maybe even counterproductive at first, but once a shared rhythm is found – either by mind meld or capitalizing on complementary approaches – the outcome can be greater than the sum of its parts.
And encouraging collaboration from your mentee not only builds their confidence and experience, it also gives them ownership of the final result – and a healthy dose of pride in a job well done goes a long way for someone learning the ropes.
Be a fan: Once you really get to know your mentee and you learn their strengths, gifts and passions, you become their biggest fan, promoting them at every opportunity. With the training wheels off, give them as many opportunities to share their talents with the world. Connect them to those in their preferred arena. Bend the ears of those with whom you’ve established rapport and respect about your mentee. This is your time to become their biggest fan – shouting them from the rooftops – to equip them for the glorification of God.
Sometimes, if we can just get out of our own way and outside of ourselves, we can see the bountiful opportunities God has given us to equip His saints. Our great power and influence come with great responsibilities and when wielded thoughtfully, we can build a living legacy that will go on long after we leave.