How to Screw Up Your Legacy

I was walking from the church to the car one Sunday night a few years ago. Once again I was one of the last people to leave. The parking lot was almost empty. I’m used to the night security guys starting their cars and following me out most nights.

It had been a rough day, a rough year actually, and being the last to leave made me angry and bitter. A flood of complaints flooded into my brain. It must be nice to have a pastoral position where you’re done once church is over! I must be the only one who actually works around here!

Then suddenly I had a video play in my head. It was of me 20 years later, taking that same walk from the church to my car. Two folks were standing up on the sidewalk saying, “Look, there’s Pastor James. He’s the hardest working pastor here. Been the last to leave for over 20 years!” Then a thought came to my mind.

If you’re bitter… you’ll ruin your legacy. No one will care.

It was like a slap in the face… a much needed one. Before I even made it to my car my heart was repentant. I wish I could report that I was instantly changed. I wasn’t… but that phrase became like a rudder for my mind. Whenever I started to get bitter, it would help to steer me in the right direction.

I don’t want my sacrifices to go to waste. I don’t want my labor to give others the impression that working for God is futile and overwhelming. It only seems that way when I try to do it in my own strength.

God began to show me that there is purpose to our struggles. Especially when they don’t go away or even ease up. But we can ruin that when we complain and become jaded and embittered.

One day I want people to look at my life and be inspired to emulate it. It will be an example one way or the other. I want it to be an example to follow, not an example of how NOT to do it.

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