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Does Ministry Outlive The Minister—Survey Results Part 2
June 27, 2017
Does Ministry Outlive the Minister?
Survey Results—Part 2
There's a concern from our recent survey of ministry problems that the work done in ministry ceases to have any effect after the minister retires or dies.
While a minister can work well and effectively in the Vineyard some ministers feel that there is no one who will pick up where he or she left off.
So a minister might work hard to no lasting purpose.
Well, many ministers have left a lasting legacy so it's very possible to do—
There's Jesus, St. Paul, St. Augustine, John Knox, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Billy Graham, Bishop Sheen, Mother Teresa and many others.
All of them were wildly famous and have left legacies that continue to inspire all types of Christians.
There are also others who have left negative legacies that will live on after they are long gone.
There's Jesus' friend, Judas Iscariot who some say had the decency to hang himself for what he did.
There's Cardinal Bernard Law whom the people of the Boston Archdiocese drove out of office for aiding and abetting sexual abuse of children.
There's Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and their theme-park and condo time-share ministry that sent Jim Bakker to jail.
There are many other famous rascals who planted weeds in the Vineyard.
So leaving a legacy—positive or negative—is not all that difficult.
But, what about more ordinary ministers working in the Vineyard that the public knows nothing about?
How can they be sure that their legacy lives on even if they think no one is paying attention?
Well, it seems that in this day and age nothing could be easier.
There is an old saying that "A life worth living is a life worth recording".
Many people are now using social media to record their lives ad nauseam (do you really care what your friend had for lunch?).
Even Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Francis are tweeters.
And there's the master tweeter Donald Trump. History will not only have his edited memoirs but the immediacy of his thoughts and reactions that show in his tweets.
In our time you can publish, market and sell your own books online. So there is no reason not to have a following and leave a lasting legacy.
While tweets and frat party photos on Facebook might not give much traction to create a meaningful legacy—blogging and newsletters certainly are great ways to attract an audience and leave paths to your wisdom.
I once knew a seminarian who wanted desperately to be a priest "because then people will listen to what I have to say", he told me.
When I asked him what he was going to tell these people—he wasn't sure. He had the desire to leave a legacy, but he hadn't decided what that legacy would be.
Since nothing makes a person think better than writing a blog or scripting a podcast, the opportunities to create a lasting legacy of your ministry—and the basis for its teachings—are right at hand.
Don't just do things that people forget in ten minutes. If what you do is effective, publish it and the followers will line up.
Look at Bishop Sheen who died in 1979 before desk top computers went mainstream. Today, you can touch the screen on your phone and watch videos of his legacy on You Tube—one of the world's largest search engines.
Look at St. Peter there's not much of a record about his ministry. And he was the first pope.
But, look at St. Paul, a brilliant Greek-educated Jew from Tarsus who wrote it all down and snail mailed his letters around the Mediterranean. Everyone knows him and what he thought.
Rembrandt and Van Gogh painted pictures of themselves and invented the selfie.
So, if there is going to be a legacy for a minister, the minister will have to create it and they can do it right from their ipad, and even include photos.
The work of every worthwhile ministry can live on to inspire others long after the minister has left.
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