Will You Leave a Legend or a Legacy?

While in Tennessee last week with Jim Wideman and my Infuse group, we had a very interesting conversation about legends and legacies. It can be a fairly controversial topic because many ministry leaders really don’t get this. I might even venture to say that most kidmin leaders don’t get this. The true measure of your success or lack of success won’t be determined until after you are gone. Months and years after your departure will reveal what kind of children’s pastor you were. One of two things will have happened.

When you leave, either you will have left a “legend,” or you will have left a legacy.

Let me explain what that means. If you left a “legend,” you walked away a kidmin rock star and left a pretty big gaping hole with your absence. You were awesome. The kids are going to miss you. The parents are going to miss you. The volunteers are even going to miss you. For years, they’re talk about how great you were. You’re a legend. It’s probably going to be easy for people to remember how great you are because in your absence, things just aren’t as good anymore. Why? Because the best part about the ministry was you, and you took that with you.

When you leave a legacy, your ministry becomes so much less about you and more about the people serving with you. Although you may be incredible on the stage, a top-notch communicator to parents, even the most creative mind your church has ever seen, you put all of that secondary to developing others to become major players in those same areas. You invest in your leaders so that they are incredible on stage and top-notch communicators to parents and creative assets to your church. When you operate under the mindset of leaving a legacy, you make the ministry far better than anything you alone could do. Most importantly, when you have left a legacy, it’s possible that you might leave quietly and only a handful of people will even notice.

Leaving a “legend” strokes our ego, but it doesn’t serve the local church. Leaving a legacy is kingdom building; it’s the art of multiplication and creating something that will last far beyond your tenure.

I’m personally convicted as I write this post because I’ve left a legend before. I’ve left a legend more than once. When you’re a good children’s pastor, it’s really easy to go after the low-hanging fruit and make a visible difference very quickly. The hard work comes from working behind the scenes, developing people to do what you do and do it even better.

Think about this for a little bit. You may feel like you’re God’s gift to chidlren’s ministry. When it comes to kids, you’re highly skilled…even gifted. Who cares? If you’re not building into others and leaving a legacy, it doesn’t really make any difference in the long run.

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Kenny Conley
Kenny Conley is the primary author of Childrens Ministry Online and the NextGen Pastor at Gateway Church in Austin, TX. In addition to creating the Illuminate Conference, a high quality kidmin conference designed specifically for volunteers, Kenny is a published author and speaker.