Ministry Journey Blog

Thoughts on Ministry

07 Feb

Published Article-Legacy

Posted in Uncategorized on 07.02.12 by Merlyn

Published in Connections Magazine (Sept/Oct 2011)

Learn about Connections here


By Rev. Marcus J Carlson

A Christ-centered legacy should be just that—centered on Christ. We are called to change, to be transformed. That is the call to discipleship. That is what it means to follow Jesus. Our everyday life should be put before God. Every decision, everything we do, our relationships, our choices, our decisions, our work, our resources—all should be placed before God as an offering.

It’s not just about what we do—it’s about what God is doing. Legacy comes from God. Who we are is because of who God has created us to be. Embracing what God is doing is the best thing we can do for God. Being attentive to what the spirit of God is doing in our midst is where power and legacy are found. Looking for God’s dream, His kingdom revealed around us. This is truly countercultural. It’s the opposite of what the world says, but to be honest, the world has gone absolutely crazy. Let’s not let the world dictate who we are, what we do and what our legacy is.

Instead, let’s look to the God who created us and become our true selves, to be transformed into the persons that God has created us to be. True and meaningful change—a real and powerful legacy—is impossible without God. We are called to give ourselves and every aspect of our lives completely to God. The more I interact with and minister to children and youth, the more I learn. Certainly as a parent, I feel I often learn more from my children than I teach them, especially about God. As I interact with the various Gospel passages where Jesus has an interaction with or something to say about children, I find that each day I understand a little more of why it is that Jesus valued children so much.

The other day I was tired and overwhelmed with my task list, so I took the chance to lie in my hammock with my iPod on as I read through my sermon for that weekend. My son Micah, who is almost 6, joined me in the hammock with his iPod as well. At one point he poked me to get my attention. Not wanting to be disturbed at the moment (and a bit agitated at the interruption), I was able to catch myself and remember what Jesus did in a moment like this. I took the headphones out of my ear and asked Micah what he needed. He then proceeded to explain the Trinity to me with great passion and excitement. It was an amazing moment. I found his childlike theology of the Trinity to be very powerful and meaningful—in many ways, he had a greater understanding than most in the church.

The Trinity is complicated and requires one to embrace mystery in order to fully accept the concept. Perhaps this is why children have a greater understanding of theological truths, because they are able to embrace mystery with greater ease. Micah ended his theological lesson by exclaiming how great it is that we have the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It was a proud and profound moment, and I found that I learned a thing or two.

My sermon that weekend was on this topic of legacy. Unfortunately, I was not able to connect this moment with my son to my sermon as I perhaps should have. After the weekend, I was able to reflect on what God was doing and saying in the moment in the hammock with my son, as well as what God was saying to me as I attempted to bring His Word to the people of our congregation.

As I continue to think about this moment and my own thoughts on legacy, I realize that the issue of legacy is a key issue for our culture today. If we do not start to take legacy seriously, the church is going to suffer greatly—both now and in the future. So much of our legacy is found and lived out by our own children, as well as the children and youth with whom we interact. God does not wait until children are adults to use them, nor does God speak only to adults who can best understand what God says. The story of Samuel is an obvious and powerful illustration of that. The thing that

Samuel got right (as well as Eli, who mentored him) was that Samuel was willing to listen. His first posture, his first response to God was to listen. This may be perhaps one of the most powerful gifts that children can offer to us, and it may be a reason why children have such a genuine and powerful understanding of God.

Legacy starts with listening—listening to God as He speaks in our relationships, our circumstances, through our worship, in creation, in His Word and more. Listening leads us to a place of humility and submission. We cannot have a legacy without listening, and more specifically, listening to God. Listening

leads us to something greater than ourselves. “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9). I try to make this my posture for life. I try to think and act on this in each moment, big or small. Listening means hearing something, whether it’s good, strange or hard to hear. Listening in our culture is abnormal, especially listening to God. When we listen to God we are often called to things that might seem strange or even wrong in our culture. Yet, we are called to come to Jesus like a child, willing to listen and go wherever God leads—no matter how strange, difficult, awkward or surprising that calling might be.

Our legacy is not found in what we do, what we have or even what we achieve. Our legacy is found in God, who is the author of all legacy. Our legacy as adults, ministers, parents, grandparents, mentors and followers of Jesus is found in our relationship with the God of the universe, His people (especially His children and youth), as well as His world.

My son Micah, in that simple moment in the hammock, reminded me of the joy of listening to the God of the universe. He also reminded me of what is most important in life. The whole church must come together to bring about God’s dream, His kingdom, to this world. We need all of God’s people to work together to care for the children and youth in our midst—not just for the sake of the future, but because God has called us to love all of those around us in a real, radical and powerful way.

To what kind of legacy is God calling us? What do we want to do to help bring about God’s kingdom on earth? How can we listen to, pour into, and mentor the children and youth around us so that we can leave a powerful legacy that will allow the church to be all Christ has called it to be, both now and in the future?

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