If you knew with absolute certainty that you’d die exactly one year from now, who are the top five people that you’d want to invest your time in? Do you know what you would want to pass on to them after you’re gone?
Every day, without knowing it, we are passing on who we are, what we possess and what we learn. But are we really passing down the stuff that matters?
All of us desire to leave an inheritance of significant value to those around us, but we don’t always know what that includes or how to do it. We plan for how to pass down our wealth, but when it comes down to the intangibles – the kind of stuff money can’t buy – we don’t seem too concerned. We might tell ourselves, it’s OK, and we’ll figure it out later. But the truth is, the average person will fail to pass on what matters the most to the people they care about the most.
Who comes to your mind when you think about those you would want to pass down a lasting inheritance – is it your family, your friends? Maybe it’s your spiritual children, the people you disciple in your small group, or the people at your workplace or school. It might be different for us all, but one thing is certain: God has uploaded the truth of his spirit into each one of his children. Therefore, it’s our responsibility to “download” – or transfer — to others the truth and the values that God has given us. This is our spiritual legacy.
The apostle Paul compares the Christian life to running a race. In 1 Cor. 9 he says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” Each Christian is called to win the prize. The prize does not represent salvation, which is a free gift; the prize is an earned reward.
Paul sees this race as a relay in which each participant passes along the baton to the next runner. In a relay race, if the baton is dropped, the team is disqualified. As Christians, our goal of running the “faith race,” is not only to finish well — which means to live a life that glorifies and pleases God – but to also run the race with purpose. Why else would you run a race if you weren’t in it to win?
By running to win the prize we must pass on the truth and life of Christ that was deposited in us and give it to the “next runner.”
Building a spiritual legacy requires us to live out our faith with transparency and pass down the character traits that God is refining in us. What might this look like for you? When you are willing to share how you respond to hardship, approach your work, manage money and make decisions, you bring tremendous, life-changing potential to those around you. Even when your life seems like a train wreck, God can and will use your experiences to help others grow when you trust Him with every area of you life, depend on His Word and live in community with other believers.
To find out more about how you can change the lives of future generations, check out the series Download.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip