“Legacy” is “achievement” that endures. Achievement relates more to self-esteem and status needs, while legacy focuses on the sense of personal fulfillment that comes from making an enduring contribution to the well-being of others. Achievement focuses on the present moment and immediate benefits, while legacy looks at the long-term consequences of who we are and what we do. Achievement is composed of “onesies” (individual actions), while legacy weighs the broad impact of one’s contributions on the welfare of the community.
Legacy faces some of the same dangers we listed in considering achievement yesterday. “It’s all about me and preserving the memory of me” can be its Achilles’ heel. True legacy does not require that the name or the person becomes the focus of the legacy left.
While I was in the doctoral program in seminary, the pastor of my home church (Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham) invited me to fill the pulpit on an occasion when he planned to be away. The date happened to be Memorial Day weekend, and I carefully prepared my sermon to relate to that occasion. A few months later the Baptist Sunday School Board announced an “Award Winning Sermons” contest, so I submitted the sermon I had preached. From about 300 submissions, my sermon was selected as one of the 15 published in a Broadman book, Award Winning Sermons, Volume 2 (1978). The title of my sermon was “A Gift Remembered—A Name Forgotten.” It was based on Matthew 26:6-13, the story of “an unnamed woman who appeared in an unusual set of circumstances and who did a most remarkable thing. Although her name has been forgotten, her deed, her gift, has been remembered.” The four sections of that sermon were: A Timely Gift, An Appropriate Gift, A Precious Gift, and The Anonymous Giver.
That is the spirit of legacy. Legacy is not about the contributor; it’s about the contribution and its lasting example and impact. Row 6 in the “Making Disciples Chart” will give us direction in leaving a legacy as disciples of Christ.
NOTE: The “Making Disciples” chart is available to you via email. Send an email message to: firstname.lastname@example.org.