While on a cruise recently I was talking with a bartender about the most expensive liquor he had in stock. During the conversation he said “This is what I have, but it’s not the most expensive on the ship. There is a bottle of scotch (I think it was scotch) that has a price of $200 a glass.” So I asked him about it, really out of curiosity, cause lets face it I work at a church I can’t afford that. He told me the reason it was so expensive was because it’s 100 years old. That really struck me as crazy. I mean imagine entering any trade and spending the time to become good at it, which in itself can take years and sometimes decades. Then creating a product you are the most proud of, but it will not be used in your lifetime. Now imagine that your masterpiece is something finite, so finite in fact that to experience it would cause it to cease to exist. Imagine investing your lifetime in something some stranger would drink after you had passed away.
Now think about how you would get better and doing that job. The nature of what you are doing makes feedback useless. So what metrics do you have for success? What would be be like to invest in a legacy that was so inherently finite? However, it seems like we do this in ministry at lot. We invest in things that are great, especially in the short run, but in the middle and long distances are less finite then a bottle of scotch. I mean lets face it, how many churches can you name that are 100 years old?
These thoughts just really resonated with me for some reason, so I continued to think on them and how would I feel about making that type investment in something that I would not even be around to see the fruit of. Then it occurred to me that if I am doing my job right and our church is succeeding like it should, I should be making this type of investment. It also made me think the only way this type of long game works is if you are pouring (see what I did there) into someone. The young guys I am investing in will be taking over for me eventually, and if I have taught them anything they will be investing in the next guys before too long and I will have set the pace for them. I will have placed our feet on a path that will continue long after I am not longer at my church. If I have done it right I will have shaped something that will outlive my existence. I will have built my legacy.
So who are you pouring into? Do you have a legacy plan that will cover the next 100 years?