What Will Your Legacy Be?
Recently a story of another jailbreak took the headlines by storm. This time it was “El Chapo” Guzman, a drug lord that had run a huge drug cartel out of Mexico. The headlines reported that he climbed through a small hole in his shower and walked a mile through a well-ventilated shaft that was dug laterally under the prison to freedom. At one time he was called “Enemy #1” by American authorities. The last time someone had the distinction of that title was Al Capone. Years ago, Guzman had been sent to prison and escaped only to be later caught and placed in a maximum security prison. But now he had escaped yet again.
Soon CNN posted an article on their website that claimed Guzman was believed to be the chief contributor of the drugs that flowed into the streets of Chicago. A retired Chicago detective, who had spent 60 years in law enforcement, was quoted saying: “Guzman is the reason you’ve got kids fighting over just one corner, and shooting each other.” The detective was also quoted as saying: “Guzman has hurt everyone — the users in the city and the suburbs, the innocent bystanders, the kids who get wrapped up in gangs.” The article went on to say that Guzman “was born to a poor rural family and rose to lead a global network of smugglers, dealers, assassins, corrupt politicians and paid-off police.” The article also reported that Guzman had almost 150,000 street gang members who dealt heroin, cocaine and meth on the Chicago streets and that eighty-three percent of men arrested for crimes in Chicago in 2013 tested positive for drug use.
It’s pretty obvious how Guzman will be remembered, but what about you? What will your legacy be? How will you be remembered by others? What will people say about you when you are gone?
Several years ago a friend of mine had breakfast with a wealthy Wal-Mart executive. The executive told my friend that although he had made a lot of money and had been very successful, he felt empty because he had done nothing of significance. The main reason many men walk away from their families around midway through their lives is because they think the next wife or more money will fill the hole deep within them. Jesus has a lot to say about this and he makes one statement that is so important that three of the New Testament books record it:
“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.’” (Mark 8:34-38)
Jesus is being very clear that if you want to follow him you must completely die to yourself. Dead men have no rights. Dietrich Bonheoffer was a pastor in Germany during WW2. He is famous for saying: “When God calls a man, he bids him come and die.” He was killed in a concentration camp just weeks before Hitler committed suicide. Jim Elliot was a missionary to the Eca Indians back in the 1950’s and was killed by the very people he was trying to win to Christ. But he said: “He is no fool who gives up what he can not keep to gain what he will never lose.” The world would say that their early deaths were a waste but I believe Bonheoffer and Elliot were two of the great men of their days, and they were willing to give all, even their own lives, for Christ. I believe that at the heart of living a life of significance is not living for yourself but giving your life for others.
Once again I will ask: What will your legacy be? How will people remember you? I can distinctly remember one night during my freshman year that I decided to make Christ not just my Savior, but Lord of my life. I resisted the temptation to go live with a lot of other Christian guys and instead spend most of my time investing in my fraternity. From an outsider’s point of view, there is not much about fraternity or sorority life that will help you grow in your relationship with Christ. But what if the reason you got a bid from your chapter was not because of your good looks, who you knew, or how you dress? What if God was the one who placed you in your chapter? Some of the highlights of college for me were the spiritual conversations I had with guys late at night hanging around the house. Leading Bible studies, even if only a few guys showed up, was deeply fulfilling. Whether it was standing up in chapter, giving devotionals from our ritual, or praying for a brother that was going through a hard time, it was awesome.
Sure I took some heat from being one of the only outspoken Christians in the house. I had to drive an old van to school my sophomore year because I did not finish my freshman year with grades that satisfied my dad. The actives called it the “Jerusalem cruiser” and “Jesus bus” but this was very little persecution in light of the impact I was able to make on several of my brothers.
An active named Jim Landsaw came by my room one night during my senior year. I was living in the frat house and left my door open as often as possible. Jim looked concerned. He said that he had just found out that one of his close friends had died in a car wreck. After listening to him for a while, I asked, “Jim have you thought about where you would be right now if you had of been in that car?” He answered yes and that he had no idea. As we talked through the Gospel, Jim decided to surrender his life to Christ that night and would later serve on staff with Cru for two years after college. I was no saint in college and did several things that I regret, but when it came to the thoughts of giving my all to my fraternity to win as many to Christ as I could, I had very few regrets.
Here are two practical things I would do in college:
- When I meet with a younger guy in the fraternity that has promise of being a spiritual leader in the house, there a few things I talk to him about. I first tell him that I see a lot of potential in him and that I could see him being a key spiritual leader in the house and then I ask him to consider two questions and then get back together in a few days to discuss them. I ask: What do you need to be doing this semester to prepare yourself personally and spiritually so that you could be one of the key spiritual leaders in this frat? And how can I help you? Next I ask: What do you not need to be doing to be ready to be one of the key spiritual leaders in this frat? And how can I keep you accountable in those areas?
- During the last week of my time in college I decided to have a commissioning service for the guys I had been pouring into in my fraternity. I asked 7 guys to meet me down in the basement one night at midnight. Darren and I led the time together, because he had helped me over the years ministering in the house, and we were both about to graduate. Here are a few things we did that night when we met together. We both read various passages of scripture to the guys and challenged them to step up and lead the ministry in the chapter. That meant doing devotionals at chapter as well as leading bible studies in the house. Next we laid hands on each guy and prayed for them specifically. Then we took off their shoes and washed their feet, and finally we took communion together. Now I am not saying you need to do all these things, but I will say that the next day, when I was eating lunch in the house, Hunter Hall came up to me and said, “I really got it last night. I realize that I really need to step up and lead in this house!” And he did just that, becoming a key spiritual leader the next year. Then he went on to join staff with Cru and ended up coming back to the U of Arkansas and ministering back in the Sigma Chi house for seven years.
“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. …to the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:19,22)