This is the final installment in my series on reinvention. I hope you have found it to be helpful. For me it has been therapeutic, because I have had the opportunity to think through and put into my own words the lessons I have learned while on my personal reinvention journey. Though I didn’t expect to need to reinvent and I didn’t begin the journey of my own choosing, I’ve found that it has become my lifeline to the next chapter of my ministry, career, and life in general. I had been perfectly content with my situation before I began this journey, and the need to reinvent took me totally by surprise, but nevertheless, I found myself thrust into reinvention because others viewed me as no longer relevant. To my last breath I will believe they were wrong; however, like it or not, I’ve taken the hard steps and made the sacrifices I needed to make in order to become a better me, reinvented and ready for the next adventure. I don’t yet know the details, but I believe something great will still happen. Those who labeled me irrelevant because of their bias will be proven wrong.
The final lesson of reinvention has to do with the legacy we will leave. Eric Erikson stated, “I am what survives me.” This simple statement has overwhelming truth attached to it. We will be remembered not by what we have done while on this earth, but the things for which we are remembered long after we are gone. Even then, however, it has little to do with accomplishments, fame, or fortune. What will really matter to our legacy is people. Whom have we touched and set on the right path? Whom have we cared for and invested our values into? With whom have we shared the good news and changed their eternity? These are the things of legacy that come when we reinvent, because when we do, our view of who we are and why we are here often changes for the better. As we reinvent, our goals may change from self-focused to others-focused and we become more of a selfless and servant leader, modeled to us by Jesus, whose legacy we all understand.
One of my favorite pastors and one whom I fully trust, turned me on to a book called Hero Makers, by J.D. Greear. This book speaks of legacy, though not necessarily using that exact word. It defines a hero maker as a leader who shifts from being the hero to making others the hero in God’s unfolding story.” In other words, the hero reinvents themselves in such a way that they turn their attention outward and leave a legacy through their investment in others. These are heroes who will be survived by a whole new generation of heroes. When these reinvented heroes are gone, their legacy will carry on through the lives they have touched.
Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot spoke of people who reinvent themselves as wishing to “give forward, to be useful, to make an imprint, and wanting their lives to have meant something.” That’s legacy. However, as T.D. Jakes reminds us, “uniqueness is seldom understood in real time,” so we must be willing to invest in others long before we see any results. In fact, we may never see the results while we’re on this planet. It may take a heavenly view to see the legacy that we have left in generations of people who became heroes because we invested in them.
Reinvention, as we have spent the last thirteen posts discussing, is not easy. It takes a tremendous amount of emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical energy, usually long before we see any result or benefit, but it’s worth it. It matters. It has long-term, even eternal, ramifications. Reinvention will turn us into a better version of ourselves and get us through the difficulties that pushed us along on journey’s pathway, but more importantly, if we act on this final lesson of legacy, it will change lives, make this world a better place, and impact the kingdom of heaven. I can’t think of a better reason.
Reinvention lesson for today: Leave a legacy through the lives of others.
Go reinvent yourself and lead well.