The Power of a Positive Legacy

Normally towards the first of the week, we examine an apologetic issue of importance. However, today I am still left with the overwhelming importance of a person’s legacy. This past weekend, I helped officiate my grandfather’s funeral service. I learned much more about my grandfather’s early life during his funeral than I had known while he was with us. Grandpa’s brother, Paul Sisk, said that Grandpa had led him to the Lord as well as many in their family. I also heard, from many of his parishioners, how great a pastoral leader my Grandpa had been. One word keeps coming to mind: legacy.

Legacy is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “something handed down by a predecessor.”[1] My Grandpa handed down a legacy of Christian conviction and influence. Grandpa was by no means perfect. However, he did strive to live the best Christian life that he could and used the resources he had available to him to make a difference for the kingdom of God. The issue of legacy makes me wonder what type of legacy I will leave behind. Some may inquire, “Why is it important to leave a lasting legacy when people may not remember us past a generation or two?” Such is a fair question. I feel that we must leave behind a positive legacy for many reasons.

  1. A positive legacy will inspire future generations.

The term inspire is defined as to “fill with the urge or ability to do or feel something.”[2] Inspiration is generally associated with a positive urge or ability implanted in someone. Throughout the Scriptures, we find records of individuals who have inspired future generations to do great things. Abraham is one such example. Abraham inspired the faithfulness of future generations. Abraham is revered not only in the Christian worldview, but also in the Judaist and Islamic worldviews. Others have served to inspire future generations, as well.

Jesus inspired the salvation of future generation. Jesus’ obedience even leading to the cross has inspired countless individuals to face and overcome amazing odds. Jesus noted that those who believe in him “will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).[3] If we look for a perfect example for how one should inspire others, look to the perfect example found in Christ Jesus. For it was Grandpa, who pointed me to Jesus and tried to emulate Christ as much as he could. While we all need heroes of the faith and need to be heroes of the faith for others, we should inspire individuals to always look towards the perfect example found in Jesus.

  1. A positive legacy will influence future decisions.

The legacy of an individual will influence the decision-making of future generations. If a person holds a negative influence over others, the person may propagate bad decisions in his or her children. People who constantly surround their children with drugs and addictive behaviors could influence their children to do the same. But, the opposite is also true.

We often hear about the exodus of youth from church. While we may concentrate on those things that don’t work, I have been seeking information on what does work. Michael Haverluck, writing for One News Now, notes one particular influence that keeps children in church. Haverluck writes,

“Nielson argues that firm and loving leadership at home is essential to keep kids rooted in their faith into adulthood. ‘The 20-somethings who are serving, leading, and driving the ministries at our church were kids whose parents made them go to church,’ Nielson continued. ‘They are kids whose parents punished them and held them accountable when they were rebellious. They are kids whose parents read the Bible around the dinner table every night. And they are kids whose parents were tough, but who ultimately operated from a framework of grace that held up the cross of Jesus as the basis for peace with God and forgiveness toward one another.’”[4]

I feel that the Nielsen studies are accurate. If a parent does not take church seriously, what makes a person think that their children will? Wishy-washy, buddy-buddy, boundary-less parenting does not lend itself towards good results. God told Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations” (Exodus 3:15). It was Moses’ and the peoples’ responsibility to influence future generations. Modern Christians hold the same responsibility.

  1. A positive legacy will initiate future changes.

One person can make a distinct difference which will initiate a future chain of events. People often like to think that the person is their own person and does not influence anything or anyone else. But this is simply not true. Instead of living isolated lives, people are interconnected through a human network so to speak. The choice of one person may directly or indirectly initiate a future change of some sort.

Take Joseph for instance. What if Joseph had succumbed to temptation? What if Joseph refused to listen to God and interpret the dreams of the Pharaoh? Well, life would be much different than it is now. Because of Joseph’s faithfulness, a chain of events took place eventually leading to the Exodus, leading towards the nation of Israel, ultimately leading to the first advent of Christ. Actions today lead towards decisions tomorrow.

Take again my grandpa. Grandpa became a Christian in part due to the ardent prayer life of my grandmother. What if Grandma had not prayed as she did? What then? I would suppose that we would not have had the Christian upbringing that we enjoy and countless others would have never heard the gospel message through Grandpa. Grandma was influenced to accept Christ due to the moving of the Holy Spirit working through the lives of those close to her. What if those people had rejected the calling of God to share the gospel? What then? We initiate future decisions by our actions and attitudes. A person must ask himself or herself, “Am I purporting positive potential future changes?”

  1. A positive legacy will insulate the furtherance of truth.

A person’s legacy is either that of one who insulates, or protects, the truth, or one who rejects and distorts the truth. The importance and value of the Scriptures were emphasized to me very early in life. My grandpa told me, “Son, if you keep your messages between the covers of Genesis and Revelation, you are okay. However, if you leave the text found between these two covers, you are on your own.” Grandpa’s sage wisdom in the area of biblical exegesis is one that I have tried to keep and maintain in my ministry. It was actually due to this advice that I left the ministry when I had times of doubts. If the text could not be trusted, then I did not need to preach at all. Once God demonstrated the veracity of Scriptures, I could then preach and teach with a newfound fervor.

I am struck by the dichotomy found in the Third Letter of John. John, on the one hand, praises one named Demetrius. Why did John praise Demetrius? Demetrius had “received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself” (3 John 12). The legacy of Demetrius was one devoted to truth. Yet, the same was not true for Diotrephes.

Diotrephes had a legacy that was one not devoted to truth. Rather, Diotrephes was one “who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority” (3 John 9). Furthermore, Diotrephes was involved in “talking wicked nonsense about us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church” (3 John 10). While scholars do not know much about Diotrephes, his legacy has been tainted in the pages of God’s Word. Can one imagine the horror of having one’s legacy recorded for all eternity as one who stood in the way of God’s church? Such is the case for all who allow themselves to be the conduits of falsehood.

Conclusion

Every person will leave behind a legacy of some sort. Theologians, pastors, apologists, and regular congregants alike leave something for the next generation. One must ask oneself, “What will be my legacy? What will others remember about me?” It behooves each person to evaluate themselves and begin building a legacy that will bring about good results. God has been too good for one to lackadaisically and half-heartedly settle for mediocrity. Let us all strive to leave behind legacies that will positively shape the generation to come.

 

© May 23, 2016. Brian Chilton.

Notes

[1] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, eds., Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture comes from the English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001).

[4] Michael F. Haverluck, “3 Factors Keeping Youth in Church Through Adulthood,” OneNewsNow.com (May 4, 2015), retrieved May 23, 2016, http://www.onenewsnow.com/church/2015/05/04/3-factors-keeping-youth-in-church-through-adulthood.

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Reflections on Christian Coaching

darryl speer

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview a member of our church who is also actively involved in coaching.  I interviewed Darryl Speer, an elementary school basketball coach and a tee ball coach.  We discussed the integration of Christianity in coaching.  You can access that interview by clicking here.  As I reflect back upon our interview, I also find myself reflecting on Christian coaching in general.  Coaching, especially when performed by a Christian male, can have a profound influence on a young person if the following five principles are kept.

The Importance of Positive Male Role-Models

coaching

One thing that Darryl addressed, which is something that deserves more attention at a later date, is the impact of positive male role-models.  Let’s face it.  We live in a land of single mothers and dead-beat dads.  This is not always the case, but is to a great degree.  The real victims in this ordeal are the children involved.

Formerly, I worked in the school system.  I saw first-hand the impact upon a child who grows up with no father.  Mothers and fathers are vitally important to a child.  If you take one of the elements away from a child, it can be detrimental to a child.  Some children latched onto me because they needed a positive male role-model.

However, it must be said that if a male role-model is to be a role-model, he must be positive.  Children do not need negative influences. Many children who have absentee fathers only know their fathers from violent encounters, from behind a jail-cell, or from negligence.  This certainly is not the case with all single-parent homes.  For some, it is the mother who was a negligent, negative influence.  Nonetheless, male coaches need not to be remembered for yelling, screaming, cursing, and snorting.  Rather, the male coach, if desiring to be a role-model worthy of praise, needs to encourage, drive, and compliment the children so that they feel better about themselves.

The  Importance of Integrating Good Sportsmanship

sportsmanship

Sports are competitive by nature.  Almost every coach desires to lead one’s team to victory.  Winning is fun but losing is not.  However, sportsmanship is becoming a lost art.  The coach cannot demand character from his/her players if he/she does not display genuine character as a coach.  This demands integrity.

Ultimately, Christian principles bring forth integrity which leads to character.  Many times character does not come from winning, but from losing.  As a popular sermon illustration goes, “Fruit does not grow on the mountaintop, it grows in the valley.”  The illustration shows that it is during the difficult times of life that character is grown.  Take the words of Paul who wrote, “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3–5, NASB).  Character must be exhibited both in winning and in losing in order to achieve a maximum impact as a positive male role-model.

The Importance of Equality

equality-and-diversity

Darryl Speer, the coach we interviewed, said something of great importance when he said, “We have learned to be impartial.  I have to treat my girl…the same as anyone else on the team” (Darryl Speer, Episode 36 “Christianity in Coaching,” Redeeming Truth Radio).  This is important.  Many of the great problems in sports have come from partiality.  The Bible says that the Pharisees and Herodians said of Jesus (although they were trying to trap Him), “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth” (Mark 12:14, NASB).  We are not to show partiality.  Coaches, especially Christian coaches, should not show partiality to any child regardless of race, gender, or even creed.  You will not show a person of another faith the love of Christ by being impartial to them.  Politics should absolutely play no role in this kind of equality.

The Importance of Evangelism

Evangelism

It is difficult to have a full-impact unless you have great faith.  In some areas and in some places, this may be difficult.  The coach cannot bluntly say, “You gonna accept Christ?  Huh, huh, huh???”  Especially in this hyper-sensitive culture in which we live, the Christian coach must be careful in how he or she evangelizes.  However, the Christian can still show forth the message of the gospel in the way he/she lives, by the way he/she prays, and by the way he/she treats others.  The Christian coach may not be allowed to lead a team prayer.  But, the Christian coach has every bit of right to pray on his/her own time.  Do the children witness the coach praying at mealtime?  Do the children see the coach reading his/her Bible during spare time?  These are powerful ways to be a witness.  Rest assured; people may try to stop Christianity, but God has a way of leading the wayward heart to Him.  Isn’t it about glorifying God in the first place?

The Importance of Prioritization

prioritize

Finally, the element of prioritization exists.  Although I appreciate various sports leagues, I will be the first to admit that I am adamantly against leagues scheduling games on Sunday mornings.  There is, quite frankly, no excuse in my eyes that exists for planners of these leagues to schedule games during this time.  If there are scheduling conflicts, that lies on the planners of the leagues.  Many parents are put into a paradox on Sunday mornings due to these scheduling conflicts   Every parent must make their own decision.  However, I will go on record to say that my child will not be allowed to play in any league that schedules games on Sunday mornings…period.  He will be able to play in any sport that he chooses, if he chooses to play.  He will be allowed to play as much as he wants to play, but not on Sunday mornings.  If he chooses to play the guitar instead, that will be fine, too.  If he chooses to paint and become an artist, that will be fine, too.  If he chooses to hit the books and become a scholar, that will be fine, too.  Be that as it may; I have to answer for what I do and others will have to answer for what they do.  So, I say this not to judge, but to bring out an important question, what holds the greatest priority in your life?  If you want to be a positive Christian influence, then Christ must be on center stage.

If a parent chooses to allow one’s child to play on Sunday mornings, spiritual disciplines cannot be ignored.  When one does not engage in spiritual disciplines (daily prayer, Bible study, regular church attendance, and so on), the person will find oneself slipping into a backslidden condition.  Can a person worship God on the ballfield?  Possibly.  But, it is not likely.  Nothing takes the place of the preaching, teaching, and study of the Word of God.  If one allows their child to play on Sunday morning, it is vitally important for the parent and the child to be in church on Sunday night, Wednesday night, or both.  If your church does not have services at these times, find a Bible-believing church that does hold services at these times until the league is over and then are able to go back to your home church.  Also, don’t forget to send in your tithes if you are going to be gone for an extended period of time.  If too many Christians stay gone for too long, there won’t be a church in which to return.  Remember, if parents do not place Christ at the epicenter of their lives, what makes them think that their children will???

You don’t think church attendance and spiritual disciplines matter?  Well, you are reading from a writer who backslid from God for seven years.  It did not happen overnight.  The process of backsliding is a slow, meticulous process that ends in disaster.  The most important decision is to have Christ as the Lord of one’s life.  Some hope that his or her child will go pro.  Remember, many professional athletes have made millions only to lose it all due to unChristlike behaviors.

Why do I mention this?  Well, if there is one thing that I have learned from working with children, it is that children know when someone is legit and when someone is simply blowing smoke.  If you are desiring to be a positive Christian coach, parent or leader; you MUST be a Christian and you MUST have your service to Christ as your chief priority.  The children will not take the coach seriously about the coach’s faith unless the coach is serious about his own faith.  That goes not only for coaches, but also for parents and any person of influence.

Conclusion

When put in proper perspective, sports can be a wonderful way for children to have fun and learn life principles.  The coach can be a great catalyst to bring forth positive Christian values to a child.  There exists a HUGE demand for positive, Christian, male coaches in our day in time.  But what must be stressed is the importance of character in the coach.  This is something that is missing in many men in our day and time.  Oh, that God would bring up Christian men of integrity that will make a positive impact in the world for Christ!