Today I am sitting here at my computer remembering a great man.
“Grandpa Peters” followed Jesus with his whole heart. His love for Jesus worked outward to include a powerful love for the church.
My entire life Pastor Russ or as we loved to call him “Grandpa Peters” was a solid fixture of faith and wisdom. He lived out life with the people in his church, preaching every Sunday, officiating weddings, and providing comfort at funerals. He was truly a “fixture” of the community, a man who lovingly noticed the lowly and invested his love – and more importantly the love of Jesus – into any who crossed his path.
I found myself a bit saddened that I could not attend his memorial service. I wanted to honor his legacy. I wanted to tell the world how this man had finished the race strongly, and how his vibrant life with Jesus directly influenced our family. I wanted him to know that every day I strive to love, counsel, and serve like he did. I certainly hope to finish strong…just like Grandpa Peters.
As pastors of churches and servants in the great kingdom of God, we have a unique challenge - to leave a legacy for those who come behind.
It is developed in the small daily tasks where we build that legacy.
It is in availability, in steadfast kindness, in a lifetime of faithfulness where legacy grows and develops. Our legacy is not built quickly, it is not a “fast food” item that is instantly wanted and instantly granted. A legacy is created every day as we “show up” to do the daily pastoral work.
Unfortunately I don’t have a stand out memory of Pastor Russ’ sermons. I can’t seem to recall his words at all. I have clear memories of his smile. I easily recall memories of the way in which he spoke to me as a child. I vividly remember how he took me under his wing and showed me how to pray for people – I was only in Jr. High at the time! I remember invitation, kindness, and I remember steadfastness in good and bad times. Finally, I will forever remember the way in which he noticed my parents and became their friend, confidant, and shepherd. He discipled them, thus greatly impacting our family and leaving a legacy for this pastor to follow.
Consistently showing up to offer ourselves as men and women whom others can depend on to follow the Jesus way is our legacy. Sometimes I think we spend more of our time concerned with the finite work of preparing sermons and leading church programs when our character and actions display Jesus in ways that last beyond our life. Our choice to come alongside others and show them how to follow Jesus is our legacy.
Years ago I had the honor of preaching in the pulpit of a church my grandfather planted in Lima, Peru. After the gathering an old man came up to me pointing at the bricks in the wall of the church. He said, “Do you see those bricks right there?” I nodded, curious as to what was coming next… “I laid those bricks with your grandfather and as we worked together he taught me how to follow Jesus. He discipled me as we laid those bricks together!” This man did not recall sermons preached and programs led…what was cemented in his heart was the ordinary time working side by side sharing in the life of Jesus as walls were built up.
Lets build the walls of a discipleship legacy together!
Lets be faithful to the command of John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
When we are gone, what will they remember about us? What are we doing today that will outlive us?