In the 1970s there were several “That’s Entertainment” compilations released to showcase the greatest MGM musicals. They were introduced by a star-studded cast of movie greats including Debbie Reynolds from Singing’ in the Rain who actually once kissed me …. but on the cheek and because she thought I was a cute child (not a cute adult)! Very few of these legends of the silver screen are still alive and, nowadays, their enduring legacy is minimal. This is largely because most musicals have dated badly and don’t seem to be of interest to our contemporary generation. But would it not be sad for our own lives to ultimately count for little beyond our tenure on life’s stage?
That’s why our true legacy is measured in lives meaningfully touched. Aside from anything we might create or record for posterity, this generally happens through the people we impact and those who they then reach because of us. This is surely Jesus’ model for marking a life well lived in view of His call for us to make disciples of all nations as our defining mission in life.
“These things that you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others,” says Paul quite similarly in 2 Timothy 2:2. Legacy. The disciple-making mandate that defines a successful life starts here with Paul and is enhanced by the input of extra influencers. Timothy receives it and then passes it to others – “reliable” others – who get the whole point of life and respond accordingly. They demonstrate their faithfulness by then relaying it to a fourth generation. More than a century of impact back then, and no signs of slowing since. This impact has been refreshed and re-contextualised for each new person to whom it has been paid forward since, being multiplied through the ages to amplify the heart of Paul’s original writings.
Real people and real lives. That’s who I need to touch, and for their good, not mine. Also for the good of those who they will also reach. That’s the legacy I want to leave, long after I am gone and forgotten and long after that decades-old Hollywood kiss would even matter to anyone any more.