If you wish to enrich days, plant flowers; if you wish to enrich years, plant trees; if you wish to enrich eternity,plant ideals in the lives of others.
S. Truett Cathy
You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.
2 Timothy 2.2 NLT
Leadership is not a spectator sport. It requires your daily participation and continual involvement if your desire is to influence those around you and leave a positive impression upon them. But desire and activity alone are not sufficient. How you live your life determines whether others will trust you enough to follow you. It is by this ongoing example you flesh out your visions, principles and values.
One of the greatest overriding needs for leaders is to multiply themselves to the next generation. This means that to impact others for a positive effect you cannot be value neutral – either ethically, morally or spiritually. Whether or not we are conscious of it, uur lives stamp others with an indelible impression for either good or ill. This is precisely why we need to live intentional lives.
Your life and leadership is like a relay race in which you pass the baton to the next runner. But the next runner can’t run unless there has been a clean hand off. In the same way, it’s difficult for the next generation to live lives of character or integrity unless they’ve been taught character and integrity. This describes the sad reality of the book of Judges as reflected in Judges 2.10: “…and there arose another generation after them, who did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel.”
Your legacy remains long after your deeds or accomplishments are forgotten. How do you live an intentional life? Here are five pieces to the puzzle:
Convictions are those priorities that establish your reference point for all your decisions and actions. You cannot impart to others what you do not possess and you can’t give away that which is not part of your own life. Your convictions – theological, moral, spiritual, ethical – determine your goals and objectives as they serve as the criterion or standard for your conduct. Make sure your convictions are sound and clearly and thoroughly biblical!
Leadership is ultimately a belly to belly business. It is not accomplished in the classroom but in the daily details of life. The 19th century diplomat and political figure, Charles Frances Adams, entered into his diary, “Went fishing with my son today — a day wasted.” His son, Brook Adams, also kept a diary. On that very same day he made this entry: “Went fishing with my father – the most wonderful day of my life.” Legacies are built upon the foundation of relationships, which translated means time, availability and involvement.
Despite all the good ideas and intentions, you must have the focus and clarity of putting your priorities into action. Wishful thinking won’t accomplish much.
French essayist Joseph Joubert wrote, “Children need models more than they need critics.” This is also true of leaders and followers. Leaders link truth with life and as effective leaders we must develop a seamless integration of faith with life. This is character on display in the routines of life. When asking others to change, it’s not enough to deliver an inspirational speech or a moving talk. People are moved not only by inspirational words, but by consistent actions.
No matter how difficult your challenge may be, your life must be marked by devotion. Despite the difficulties you face, don’t ever give up. It may be hard work to live an intentional life, but it’s worth it both now and for eternity.
In 1848 Dr. John Geddie went to Aneityum and worked as a missionary there for 24 years. On the monument erected to his memory these words are inscribed:
When he landed, in 1848, there were no Christians,
When he left, in 1872, there were no heathen.
None of our lives are lived in a vacuum. Daily our lives brush up upon others, touch some and impact a few. As a leader, it is your privileged responsibility to touch both this as well as futures generations! If your tombstone were inscribed today, what would it read? For what will you be remembered? Answer carefully for your response determines your legacy.
Stay the Course,
Dr. Greg Morris