Successful people live with the end in mind. They realize how short their time is on earth and prepare for leaving a legacy that lasts.
The fact is, everybody leaves a legacy after they’re gone. Some people leave a legacy of wickedness. Their legacy will be “like chaff which the wind drives away” (Psalm 1:4). Other people try to build a legacy around vocation, fame, or material gain. But 1 Corinthians 3:12 says at the Judgment Seat of Christ, those things will be burned up as wood, hay, and straw. The only legacy that lasts is one that is spent furthering the kingdom of God.
The Right Principle: Faithfulness, Not Success
If you want to build a legacy that lasts, then you need to embrace the right principle for living, which is this:
God measures significance by faithfulness, not by success.
Faithfulness means consistently following God’s calling for your life and leaving the results to Him. Here is what faithfulness looks like in everyday life:
- A faithful worker continues to give his or her best for an unappreciative boss.
- A faithful spouse continues to love his or her mate, even when that love is unreturned.
- A faithful parent continues to pray for a child who hardens his heart toward God.
- A faithful pastor continues to minister in a church with declining attendance and critical leaders.
Faithfulness means sweating the small stuff. It is doing with excellence the little things that God has called you to do. The truth is, few of us will ever do big, heroic things. However, we are called to do little things lovingly. That’s what it means to be faithful.
Jesus said in Luke 16:10–11, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?”
There are two reasons we ought to be faithful to do the small things in life with excellence. First, small things when added together become big things.
Sometimes people ask me, “Pastor, how do you write a book?” And I say, “It’s simple—one sentence at a time.” If you write just one page a day, in six months you’ll have a full-length book. It’s the same way in other areas of life. Investing just ten minutes a day reading the Bible, praying, listening to your mate, or encouraging your family can yield tremendous dividends.
The second reason we should be faithful in small things is this:
God uses small assignments as tests for bigger assignments.
The other day, my sister asked me an interesting question: “If you, like our parents, got the news that you had only a few months to live, how would you spend your time?” How about you? What would you do? Would you quit your job? Would you travel to some exotic location? Would you drink yourself into oblivion? Successful people value faithfulness in small things until the moment God calls them home.
To evaluate whether you are being faithful in the assignment God has given you, here are some great questions to ask yourself at the end of every day:
- Did I tell and show my spouse and kids that I love them?
- Did I do my job honestly and to the best of my ability?
- Did I demonstrate care for my neighbors and coworkers?
- Did I take time to express gratitude to God and others for the blessings in my life?
- Did I take my anxieties to God and leave them with Him?
- Did I try to glorify God in my thoughts, words, and actions?
Significant people understand the principle that God values faithfulness more than success.
The best use of your life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.
The Right Priority: People
Successful people not only embrace the right principle in life, but they also embrace the right priority, and that is people. They realize the futility of building their lives around money, positions, or achievements because those things are ultimately lost, stolen, or destroyed. However, people will last forever. Those who trust in Christ will exist forever in Heaven, while those who reject God’s offer of forgiveness will exist forever in Hell. But everybody is going to live forever. People who live with the end in view understand that the way to influence the world is by influencing people, whose lives will go on and on.
The best use of your life is to spend it on something that will outlast it. The Apostle Paul put it like this: “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men [and women] who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). Time invested in others is never time wasted.
If you come to the end of your life and you’re able to look back and say, “By God’s grace, I have left a legacy of faith,” then you will have unlocked the secret for a successful and, more importantly, a significant life.