Leaving a legacy or a liability?
Posted on October 1, 2013
Today’s post was not developed from my vast leadership experience. There are two primary motivators: 1) My own musings about the essence of leadership and 2) reading various approaches to leadership and developing leaders from those that have gone before. At times I wonder if we are too enamored with our own gifting, do we develop others as well as we think? If the bulk of our thought life is spent wondering how we are making ourselves irreplaceable, don’t we have the potential of leaving our organization with a liability rather than a legacy?
1 Corinthians is a fascinating book on the priorities of leaders. I wonder if part of Paul’s grief related to the Corinthian church had to do with those priorities? In the first 4 chapters he addresses concerns of the leaders that in his mind appear irrelevant. For example, in the first chapter he’s shocked to learn how concerned the Corinthians are about what leader they are following. And in chapter 3 he addresses their need to be right when he shines light on their quarreling and jealousy among one another. Then he brings it to a head in chapter 5 by addressing the brother caught in sin. He seems to point out the Corinthians are so mesmerized with trivial matters that they overlooked an important priority of a brother caught in a sin so twisted that not even the pagans practiced it.
I believe this is a charge to the church in Corinth to cease caring about their own significance, gifting, and associations and begin prioritizing the well-being of their spiritual sons and daughters. Remember in chapter 4 Paul reminds the Corinthians he is their father, not merely the latest circuit teacher. When reading I realized, depending on your view of leadership you can either leave a legacy or a liability. When we become irreplaceable to the success of the vision then we might have incorrectly placed our hope in the wrong person. Ourselves. What would it look like allow others to take your job? How do we mentor people who when we leave, no longer need us, because we have aided the development of their confidence in God and the skills to do the job?
From a paradigm of family you will quickly realize this is the role of a parent. Mom’s & Dad’s invest 18-30+ years of their lives helping their children discover who they are in God, and what He has gifted them to contribute to the world. And hopefully how to look to promote others around them and not just hunt for the next ladder of significance to climb. There’s this amazing perspective within healthy parenthood; it’s about your children, not you. It really doesn’t matter if you get yours anymore. What matters is the kids getting what they need and learning to give that same attitude away to others.
In my mind this is what it means to leave a legacy. No one may be impressed with your personal accomplishments, but you’ve laid down being well-known to see others be well-loved. I’m joyfully challenged by these thoughts for my own life and look forward to God’s gracious presence illuminating every step to truly leave a legacy and not a liability. Anonymity is a small price to pay to serve another generation that will exceed what we might produce with our gifting. Here’s to living for someone else’s destiny!