Kate Nicholas

May 22, 2024, 9:15 AM

Lessons on what we leave behind

The concept of personal legacy is deeply embedded in not-for-profit consciousness, with many – including yours truly – choosing to leave corporate life in mid-life to work within the third sector in order to make a lasting difference.

The concept of legacy is also central to Christianity, with an emphasis on leaving not only a practical but also spiritual legacy, and focusing on the legacy we want to leave for the future can make us better leaders right now. 

Few figures embody the concept of legacy as profoundly as the Apostle Paul, whose personal influence upon the early church was monumental and continues today. Paul’s legacy was multi-faceted and here are a few of the lessons that we can take from his example:

  • Faith: Following Christ has always meant being different. To the Romans, Paul wrote “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And being an overtly Christian leader in 21st century Britain is, in itself, a powerful statement of faith that can have an impact far beyond that of our time in office.
  • Vision: From the moment of his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:15), Paul was driven by his God-given mission. While most of us are unlikely to have such a vast lasting impact on society as Paul did, our legacy is dependent on discerning and aligning our activities with God’s will. To quote the Psalmist: “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labour in vain” (Ps 127:1).
  • Investing in others: Paul’s commitment to mentorship – so evident in his Epistles – is another cornerstone of his enduring legacy. He invested deeply in individuals such as Timothy and Titus, training and empowering them to lead in their own right (1 Tim. 1:2, Titus 1:4). And by investing ourselves in others we too can create a ripple effect, equipping future generations to carry forward the mission.
  • Grace: In Ephesians, Paul wrote “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (4:32). When we look back over our lives it is often those who have shown us the greatest grace and compassion who have had the biggest impact. So if we want to leave a good legacy, we need to live lives motivated by grace.
  • Words: How we choose to use our words can have such lasting impact, whether spoken or written, for good or for evil. They can build up or tear down, bring peace or division, heal or hurt. Paul wrote to Timothy, “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these things to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim 2:1). So before we speak, email, text etc, we need to consider whether our words are true, kind or necessary.
  • Perseverance: Finally, it’s about being resilient and staying focused on the task that God has called us to. In his last great letter to Timothy, Paul wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 

So what will be your legacy?


Kate Nicholas

Kate Nicholas is a best-selling Christian author, preacher and consultant with Action Planning and, in her latest book, Soul’s Scribe, Kate looks at how to understand and share your “soul story” or faith journey. Find out more about her books, TV show and online courses at https://www.katenicholas.co.uk

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