One of my favorite leaders to follow today is author/consultant/coach Sam Chand. In one of his leadership videos he made this statement, “Inheritance is WHAT you leave behind. Legacy is WHO you leave behind.” That statement has stuck with me and I think about it often. It has definite discipleship implications because discipleship is generational. Let me highlight for you how I’ve experienced it in my life.
One of my first sermons was about how we know Jesus better as we walk with him. Simple enough right? I talked about the hard roads both Peter and Paul walked to know Jesus more as they walked with him. Still ok conceptually - we all “walk with Jesus” in the spiritual sense. Where it fell apart for me was that I said (and kept saying) that both Peter and Paul literally walked with Jesus for 3 years before his crucifixion and resurrection. Ouch! I hope you caught it. While yes, Peter did literally walk with Jesus for 3 years, we all know that Paul did not. I was making the point but I was butchering the context. I was young, passionate, inexperienced, and had not studied to enough to know the difference.
“Inheritance is WHAT you leave behind. Legacy is WHO you leave behind.”
It had to be early sometime in the year 2000. It hadn’t even been an entire year since I had given my heart to the Lord. I was 17 and passionate about Jesus. I felt a call on my life and I just wanted to share the Gospel with people my age. The IPHC church I found was a loving community and the Pastor was (and still is) a true shepherd. He afforded me the opportunity to share with the youth ministry from time to time that first year but those first “sermons” were probably what you can imagine, lots of passion but very little substance.
After my “Peter and Paul” sermon, the Pastor pulled me aside and shined the light on my failure to communicate properly that day. I was so embarrassed and ashamed. That Pastor didn’t let me stay that way long. He encouraged me to stay the course and to improve my study skills. That was one of the first real “discipleship” moments that I can remember. Someone took me aside and invested in my life in a meaningful way. My Pastor, Willy Adams, still the Pastor at Eternal Light Church in Borger, TX, is an incredible Bible teacher. He’d probably refute my claims out of humility but he is extremely well studied, experienced, and a polished communicator. I’ve long thought his filing cabinet could be converted to theology books one day. His correction of my mistake wasn’t out of a harsh or judgmental place, he cared for me and wanted to disciple me along the journey. He helped me understand scripture, recommended reading and resources, encouraged me to get a concordance, and helped me learn to study. I did the work and eventually became the youth pastor at that church with the his blessing and support.
His correction of my mistake wasn’t out of a harsh or judgmental place, he cared for me and wanted to disciple me along the journey.
This is generational discipleship. It’s not complicated or mysterious. Pastor Willy (what I still call him today) had something I didn’t have and he chose to invest it into my life. It took his time but he willingly gave it. I’m a product of his careful investment into my life. It’s now 23 years later and my sermons are slightly better than they were back then because discipleship was a priority. Make no mistake Pastor Willy is still going strong but it can already be recognized, I am a small part of his legacy. Now I try to surround myself with young ministers so that I can pour into their lives not only what I’ve learned in my journey but also what I learned from Pastor Willy. His legacy carries on to them through me. They will carry his legacy and my legacy on through their lives and so on. My encouragement to you is this, find the young preacher and make the investment of your knowledge, skill, and experiences.That act of discipleship will live on for generations.
Bishop Scott Hampton currently serves as the Conference Superintendent of the Great Plains Conference of the IPHC. He is also privileged to serve on the IPHC Council of Bishops, Discipleship Ministries Council ,and the Southwestern Christian University Board of Trustees. Scott, his wife Heather, and their children (Shanna, Karsyn, and Paxton along with granddaughter Kinsley) live in Amarillo, TX area.