Leaving A Legacy

Jesus assured His disciples that they would do even greater works than He did, and there’s no reason why our apprentices can’t help take our ministries to a whole new level as well.

Heal the sick. Raise the dead. Train disciples.

All three were things that Jesus did as critical parts of His earthly ministry.

And whether you realize it or not, all three are things that you and I have the power to do, too.

Heal the sick and raise the dead.

Understandably, most people consider these two to be almost impossible for believers today to do.

Train disciples.

Have you ever thought about the fact that we often see this third critical part of ministry almost equally as unlikely as the first two?

Training up a new generation of disciples was arguably the most important thing that Jesus did as a part of His ministry. After all, if He didn’t show others how to do His “job,” then the extent of His ministry would have been limited to His time on Earth. The story would’ve stopped then and there.

What we can learn from the way Jesus led and made disciples is this: Part of being an effective leader is leaving a legacy. And that legacy is almost exclusively measured by the people who are left behind us after we are gone.

While Jesus used the term “disciple,” nowadays we might use words like “apprentice” or “trainee.” Regardless, any leader is responsible for developing others to follow after him. You don’t have to be the world’s greatest expert in your field, and you don’t even have to be smarter than the person you’re training. What you DO have to do is be willing to pour yourself into the next generation.

A good leader is working to leave their legacy.

Jesus spent three years pouring himself into His chosen disciples, training, coaching, and correcting them so that they understood the way He did His ministry and why. And the end result of this kind of intentional leadership? When He left, His team was ready to take over.

So if Jesus saw the training of disciples as a critical part of His ministry, then shouldn’t we also?

Here are just few things you can do as a leader in your field to leave your legacy with the people who are coming behind you.

Start now.

The work starts now. Jesus began His earthly ministry knowing that He needed to train others on how to take over once He was gone. He didn’t wait to start until right before He was crucified. He didn’t try to cram it all in at the end. Instead, He made sure that He always had others around when He ministered to others. He used every opportunity to create a teaching moment—to explain what He was doing and why He was doing it.

Choose your team intentionally.

Jesus intentionally chose people who showed potential and had willing attitudes. In essence, He handpicked His crew. He played favorites. He didn’t just wait for people to volunteer to join Him on the journey; instead, He made deliberate, intentional choices about who He would train up to follow Him and carry on His ministry in the days, months, and years after He was gone.

Empower your people.

Identify the eager team members with potential and invest as much in them as possible. Grab someone else and show them how to fix an issue that you’re troubleshooting. Take your hands off the reins and let someone else run a critical position or play a major role on your team. Empower the people you’re working with to be the kind of leader you’re modeling for them. Give them a chance to succeed… and to fail!

Give them your feedback.

Debrief with your people afterwards to help them improve. Share some of your feedback both on what they did really well and what they could do better or different going forward. Let them know you see both their wins and their struggles as leaders and work to help them keep improving both.

Listen, I know it isn’t easy to carve out time to train someone else, especially when they may end up being smarter or better than you at the job! But in the end, it pays tremendous dividends. I’ve established myself as a leader and team-builder, and I’ve doubled my productivity, all because both myself and my apprentices can get work done in multiple places at the same time!

Jesus assured His disciples that they would do even greater works than He did, and there’s no reason why our apprentices can’t help take our ministries to a whole new level as well. It’s not quite as extreme as raising the dead, but the end result may be just as much of a lifesaver.