The Saturday adventuring continued this weekend, as I went “home” to Knoxville. Having lived there for 12 years through college, grad school and post-grad life it became my home. It’s always good to go back and see how it’s changed, and some of the things that stay the same, visit family and friends, and enjoy it as a little respite from life. Next week I will celebrate five great years in Nashville, and this week two years in my own home (hooray!) so I thought it was right to get back to Knoxville where these big plans of life all started.
My sister and I decided to jaunt out to James White Fort in honor of Statehood Day on June 1, celebrating 220 years. While ridiculously hot (hi June in the South) it was really cool to see the juxtaposition of the oldest building in the state against the backdrop of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, downtown, and the Tennessee River.
It was a great weekend filled with time well spent thinking on the legacy we are leaving now for people to see two hundred years from now. What are we building in our lives, our homes, the people around us that leaves a lasting imprint like this? What will people read about and discover about us centuries into the future?
Recently I have been thinking alot on leadership, and what leaving a legacy means. (Thanks to David Landrith for that six week series by the way!) There’s been talk of leadership changing, leadership growing, the direction of leadership…and ultimately what my leadership leaves behind. David has reiterated over the last six weeks that the life we are leading now is our very own funeral sermon, our obituary.
If you are like me, I hadn’t really given that much thought. At 32 I don’t really contemplate death and what my funeral will be like. (In my early twenties I did dwell on that far too much…and the journals from that time detail what I wanted should I pass) I have been more conscience of what my life is saying about me though over the last year, whether I realized it or not. For a time it said I was too wrapped up in a relationship to notice red flags about the situation. It said I was too focused on a person instead of on God. It read like a anthem that busy was the way life should be led.
There were things I said no to this last year that I can be proud of. I took a volunteer position that ultimately was not in line with what I felt God was doing in my life. I respectfully stepped down, with no guilt, no shame, and no regret. It is a great opportunity, but not for my legacy. I struggled with the decision to change churches. Not for someone, but for my own spiritual growth and development. I had felt the call to this church, even before I moved to Nashville (long and awesome story later…). I don’t regret leaving CP because I know it is doing amazing things for the kingdom, but it wasn’t where I was called at this time in my life. While it was difficult to step away from the college ministry there, I know God’s got something even grander in store in my journey.
So often these days we feel called to say yes to everything, then complain when we are worn out, overbooked, and stressed. I control my schedule for the most part and I allow in what I feel I am passionate and called to do. But the bragging of busy is overrated and inexcusable in everyone’s life.
In saying no, it doesn’t make me a lesser person or weaker leader. In giving a no, I am fervently deepening the yeses I say. That is the most powerful thing as a person, as a believer I have, is the power of a yes. The yes to God in my life, the yes to where He is leading, and the yes of obedience. Those are the yeses I value. Sometimes does it hurt to say no? Absolutely. Is there a struggle to decide? Most definitely. But when I say no, even to something incredibly good, I make space to say yes to the audaciously great.
Knowing that, I can live with a few more “no”s in my life.
This is going up late becauseI have been down with a migraine for the better part of the last 19 hours. Thanks allergies for that…but thankfully after some meds and rest I am feeling more like those in the prison than the walkers on Walking Dead.
Going back to graduate school after having been out on my own for two years, not writing papers and not reading textbooks, terrified me. Not having a graduate assistantship that first year was even scarier. The trends showed that those who didn’t have GAs likely wouldn’t have the experiences needed for that first job. but the thing that scared me more than all that? Having Dr. E. Grady Bogue as my professor. In the field of leadership and teaching he was synonymous. Second years would jokingly remark about how difficult he was and we should be worried. Somehow I avoided having him my first year due to switching around practicums and classes. My cohort would comment in our other classes about how they had to prep for his class so much more than any other, and how eventhough he was in ill health at the time, he could still strike fear in the heart of a student.
My second year I had the misfortune, as some would say, to have him both semesters for classes. I do not know that I have ever respected another professor or higher education administrator they way I did Dr. Bogue. He had the appeal of a grandfatherly type, but one you knew you’d better be willing to engage in witty conversation with or he would leave you in the dust. I would find myself more excited about learning leadership from him than I ever have before. He would not take “I don’t know” as an answer and provided one of the greatest quotes on the leading with integrity that I still carry with me in my own work today: If you could not stand to have the decision you are about to make be put in the spotlight, be put in the headline of the morning paper or on the six o’clock news, then you should rethink where you are leading from.
He challenged in such a way to make a person think before they spoke, and recognize where their values of leadership were vested. He hammered home the thoughts of leading with integrity and provided lessons from his own time in working in upper level administration that still resonate with me. Sadly last evening I got word that he had passed after a battle with cancer. But I know his legacy lives on far beyond his life, because he chose to live it in such a way where I saw his faith, his heart, his life carve out a legacy into each of our lives as his student. One that I know for me, I still carry today in my work, that I hear myself sharing some Bogie-isms quite often with students. But also that I allow his legacy to impact my own.
We each carry our own legacy. I craft and create it, not on what I think it should be but who I truly am living out each day. I don’t know that I have ever taken time to consider my legacy, as that’s often we think about far too late in life. It is not about focusing on ourselves in this legacy creation, but the eternal perspective our legacy leaves.
As the world encourages us to focus on our greatness, as believers it should be focused on making God great. Does your passion for God show through in your legacy? I know many days mine does not, and it’s causing me to pause and reconsider who I am in my legacy story as well as who God is. Do my priorities reflect the legacy I want to leave? Priorities, driven by our passions, will make or break our legacies.
Take time in the coming days to see what legacy you have built, and how you can begin to live that legacy in the way you so desire…through your passions, your priorities, and your people.
It’s amazing how great it is to walk on the beach in the mornings. I’m not sure why it’s different, maybe it’s because I normally run on a treadmill, or that my mind knows its on vacation. Whatever it is, I enjoy those quiet hour long walks.
In that time, I noticed all the footsteps in the sand. They were everywhere. Different tracks heading in different directions, many close in pattern but not identical. We all leave footprints in our journey. Some may be larger than others, some may be out of the path you are on.
Do you take time to see the footprints you are leaving? Do you look down to see where you are currently and what lies in front?
So often we would rather turn and look back at where we have journeyed from…dwelling on the past steps we have taken. When we turn, the Son is no longer before us, lighting our path. Instead it is on our backs, casting a dark shadow upon the past, upon our journey. We dwell on those missteps and where our path veered off course.
Our footprints, the very journey we are on, is individualistic and unique. No one else is on this walk, there are those who have walked in similar situations but you are you and I am me. We must turn, leaving footprints for others to see and journey through as they make their own in the sand.