What Is It, Lord? - The Warrior's Journey®

Into the Wild. Photo by Marines is licensed under CC By 2.0

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.” Acts 10:1-4 (NIV)

At the micro level, military leaders understand the concept of mission and the importance of accomplishing it, but what about the macro level? Have you stopped anytime recently to ask yourself some important questions?

  • What will my legacy be?
  • When I leave this earth, what difference will I have made?
  • What changes do I need to make?

Legacy has to do with what we leave behind. Said another way, legacy is what we pass down to others who will follow us. As we journey through life, we are writing our story. The question is this: how do you want your story to read?

130625-A-CB595-015- Ssgt Justin Southwick (center right) gives a convoy mission brief to members of Alpha Battery 2-12 Field Artillery prior to a Key Leader Engagement meeting between members of Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah and the Director of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock in Farah city. PRT Farah's Mission is to train, advise and assist Afghan government leaders at the municipal, district and provincial levels in Farah province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by CSM Concordio Borja Jr./ Released)

Some military leaders exert their energy to benefit themselves. When they leave a job, they’re concerned with getting a good fitness report that will enhance their chances for promotion. They are not worried about the organization or the people they leave behind. It’s not about others; it’s all about them.

So what does a good legacy look like? The verses above summarize a Roman centurion named Cornelius. Take a look at his legacy.

First, we learn he was a leader in the Italian Regiment. Generally speaking, a centurion was responsible for approximately one hundred soldiers. We can assume he possessed solid leadership skills and knew how to lead men in combat as well as in garrison. He understood hardship and discipline and was well-versed in both the giving and receiving of orders.

Second, we learn that he and his family were devout and God-fearing. It seems fair to say that this centurion not only led his soldiers, but also led his family spiritually.

Third, the centurion was generous with his money. He gave to those in need. Generosity is a crucial part of legacy and this leader shared his wealth with others.

Fourth, this Bible reference tells us that the centurion prayed to God on a regular basis. His relationship with God was important to him and he wanted to stay in close communication with his Maker.

Finally, though very frightened by the appearance of the angel, the centurion only spoke a few words in the form of a question: “What is it, Lord?” In other words, the angel had Cornelius’ full attention, and this soldier was ready to follow orders.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Arrio Granum, center, a platoon leader assigned to Bravo Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, briefs his Soldiers prior to a presence patrol around Forward Operating Base Fenty in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2013. The morning patrol was to check the security of the base's perimeter and to engage area residents. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Margaret Taylor/Released)

We don’t know how the centurion lived the remainder of his life, but it’s likely he remained on his same path and left a very powerful legacy, one that honored God, his family, and others.

What about your present trajectory? Are you on a path to leave a godly legacy? When you leave this world, might someone describe you in ways similar to what was written about the centurion? Give that some careful reflection and prayer.

Let’s close with a few characteristics of people who leave a strong legacy.

  • Be Intentional About Your Relationship With God: When asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37, NIV). Make serving God your highest priority. You will become a better person and better leader.
  • Guard Your Heart: The Bible warns us to protect our hearts. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV). The actions leaders take are important, but motives are even more crucial because they often drive what we do. Continually allow God to examine your heart. He will help you lead with the right motives.
  • Love and Care for Others: Scripture commands us to love other people. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4, NIV). Leaders who demonstrate genuine love and care for those they lead will earn trust from followers and be more effective. And don’t forget: let your caring for others begin at home.
  • Pray To Be Impactful. Continually ask God how you can make a positive difference in the lives of others. If you examine Jesus’ leadership style in the New Testament, you can see that He continually tried to lead His disciples toward fulfilling their full potential.

Two more comments:

  • Word of Warning: Leaving a strong legacy will not happen by accident; nor will it occur without hard work, sacrifice, hardships, and much patience. Life is much like a roller coaster, one with ups and downs, twists and turns. Don’t be surprised when tough things happen. Don’t be discouraged when you find yourself off course. Instead, take time to do some assessment and get back on track. Your life is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. With each day, try to make good choices. Keep doing the next right thing. The Lord will help you.
  • Word of Encouragement: The Lord has created us to be in community with others. As you try to follow God and write the best story you can, your life will impact others far beyond what you can presently think or imagine. The centurion in the verses above was simply trying to follow God and live honorably. That was two thousand years ago. Imagine how many millions of people who have been encouraged and inspired by the brief description of his life. He left a legacy that continues to impact others for good.

Like the centurion, many others have left a legacy that has honored God and people. Why don’t you determine in your mind and heart to do likewise?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/9200546204/ (By U.S. Army, Licensed under CC by 2.0)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/9619312693/ (By U.S. Army, Licensed under CC by 2.0)

The content of this Devotional comes from “Daily Strength for the Battle (You, God’s Word, 5 Minutes): Volume 6 Developing the Leader in You” (2020) and is copyrighted by Scott and Judy McChrystal. Used with permission.

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