Leaving a Legacy in Ministry
I was challenged today about the importance of leaving a good legacy, particularly in ministry.
The lesson came from the life of King Hezekiah. In 1 Kings 18:5 we’re told that Hezekiah
… trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.
And yet the last incident history records of him had to do with his failure to leave a good legacy. It involved Hezekiah’s dealings with the kingdom of Babylon in 1 Kings 20:12-20. Having shown the Babylonian envoy all the treasures of Judah (out of vanity perhaps?), God pronounced judgment on Hezekiah’s sons because of it. But here’s the baffling thing: upon hearing God’s judgment, Hezekiah’s response was
“The word of the LORD you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?”
Basically it’s the attitude: ‘Phew! That’ll be someone else’s problem, not mine!’
Perhaps that’s why it’s no surprise that Hezekiah’s own son and successor was the worst king in Judah’s history: Manasseh. It seems that Hezekiah wasn’t a man who thought very much about the legacy he would leave.
I guess it’s easy to be tough on Hezekiah for his lack of foresight. And yet, how many of us really think about the legacy we leave, particularly in ministry contexts? On a number of occasions I’ve been guilty, when moving to another ministry or another church, to think: ‘That’s someone else’s problem now… I get to start afresh.’ That’s a bit of Hezekiah in me right there, isn’t it?
Rather I ought to think: whatever ministry I am engaged in, for however long God calls me to it, I’m to do the best I can not only for the present, but for the future. I want to leave a good legacy for those who come after me.
Maybe this is particularly important for those graduating from Bible Colleges and knowingly are engaged in short term appointments. What legacy are you going to leave, even in the short time you’re there? Or, as some assistant ministers are known to do, are you going to create such headaches for your senior minister that the mess is going to be greater after you leave than when you started?