Leaving a Legacy

Have you ever thought about your legacy?

At the recent European Leaders Advance in Harrogate end of July, Danny Silk (Family Life Pastor at Bethel Church, Redding California) spoke about the process of handing over our legacies well to the next generation.

At one point he asked the under 30’s to stand up so that those of us over 30 could say a prayer of blessing and impartation over them. In a room of 2000 leaders from all over the UK and Europe the number of leaders in the under 30 category was maybe 10%, perhaps 20% at the most.  You may think well that sounds quite normal. One of Danny’s points was that if we want to leave a legacy, and hand over to the next generation well, engaging them earlier on would be more ‘kingdom based leadership’. Our Biblical model of Jesus outlines this beautifully. He spends just 3 years with 12 future leaders, during that time he activated them to do many of the miracles he did. After just 3 years he left them and trusted them with the help of Holy Spirit to establish the church. Did you get that? After just 3 years of training, they were left to establish the global church! An even better and almost outrageous example is the man whom he delivered from evil spirits, who then wanted to follow him, but Jesus refused and sent him back to his home town to spread the word. Jesus released him to go lead a movement after just one encounter with Jesus. (Mark 5: 18-20)

So how do we move more closely to this model? Can we, as leaders, trust more and loose the tight reigns of control, allowing those we lead to start operating in their gifts of leadership sooner. How can we give the next generation a chance to develop their gifts, develop ideas and learn about leading whilst we are still around and by their side? Is there a way we can follow Jesus’ model becoming true mothers and fathers, nurturing the next generation into being great leaders, not holding them back but giving them true freedom and not panicking when things do not go to plan.

Danny’s message highlighted how as leaders we often hang on too long before handing over responsibility and ownership to the next generation of leaders. It’s not unusual for us to fear giving others control and free reign to explore how they will take our legacies forward and beyond where we have started. Jesus said to his disciples and us:– “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and greater works because I am going to be with the father” (John 14: 12, NLT) Jesus had no fear of those he led and His future disciples, us, outperforming him! A key component in leaving our legacy is realizing that our ‘ceiling’ is the next generation’s ‘floor’.

Often when aspects of a hard earned legacy is passed on, it’s passed on in such a way that invisible lines of expectation and control remain. These show up in many ways, resistance to change, resistance to things being done a different way than before, resistance to new ideas being developed which will take things into a new direction.

In Jim Collins book Good to Great, his first chapter outlines a relevant key component that helps great organizations out perform their competitors. Through years’ worth of research Collins and his team identified that all these organisations have what they call ‘Level 5 leaders’ heading them up. One of the characteristics of these leaders were that they focused on longevity of the organization, planning its success way beyond their tenure and making personal sacrifices for the good of the organization and its future. The mindset of these level 5 leaders, similar in fact to the way that royalty think and very much a ‘kingdom leadership’ mindset, is a mindset that thinks long-term and thinks  legacy. It’s a mindset that thinks about building something that outlasts them.

Coaching is a powerful leadership tool, which helps the next generation of leaders to be activated and freed up to start flourishing and shining. It helps them to in turn think about their own legacy right from the onset. Our legacies start from the moment we are born.

Here are 4 areas where coaching helps to activate the next generation of leaders and helps us to leave a legacy.

  1. Coaching smashes through ceilings in thinking and gives permission to people to think outside of the box. By coaching future leaders, you allow your vision to be taken to the next stage. You empower the next generation to dream and envision bigger.
  2. Coaching helps build ownership and responsibility. Unlike a more authoritarian leadership approach a coaching approach to leadership puts the onus on the person to find their own solutions and build their own future. We are many more times likely to carry out an idea which we have thought up ourselves. We ‘own’ it more wholeheartedly.
  3. Coaching gives confidence to the next generation that you believe in them. By listening to their ideas and drawing out more of what is in them through coaching tools, a person automatically feels believed in. It’s like believing in them like Jesus does, believing they will do greater works than us. Imagine a world of great leaders who have the confidence of being believed in!
  4. Coaching also inspires motivation. When you have been coached and discovered your heart and your vision. When you have been coached into knowing your purpose, you become inspired to move forward into it. Knowing your unique personal assignment and giftings, knowing what God prepared you for, is incredibly motivating.

So what is the legacy you are leaving? What do you want your impact on the world to be long after you have gone? How are you raising up a generation of leaders to follow you and take your vision way beyond your wildest imaginations?

Tina Southgate

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