Listen to the commentary
It’s an innocuous question, asked with the most quizzical simplicity: “So, what are you doing now?” For decades, I had earned a reputation for being meaningfully engaged in leading The Master’s Program in a coast-to-coast neighborhood of leaders, intent on seeing them unleashed into their unique Kingdom assignments. My mantle passed last year – during my leukemia lock-down – to Jeff Gerhardt, and I’m no longer “the guy” who is carrying the flag for this movement. Am I Retired?
Re-entering the Land of the Living earlier this year, I had a choice to make. A century ago, Robert Frost wrote about that challenge: “I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled, and that has made all the difference.” What were those two paths forward? They are: Larceny, or Legacy.
The culturally compatible choice is to retire and enjoy life, acquiring toys and experiencing travel in pursuit of the “good life.” Categorically captured in the cultural model of “the American Dream,” rich consumption and enviable activities are the visible manifestations. The assets that matter most: time, talents, relationships and financial resources managed as if they are the sole-possession of the accomplished leader who is now accountable to no one.
While celebrated in the American community as the ultimate outcome, Scripture challenges this posture by declaring that all that we have – time, talents, relationships and financial resources – are assets owned by God and entrusted to us to manage on His behalf, to benefit His Kingdom.
For a Christian who has transitioned into their next-stage of life, the unbiblical but culturally endorsed approach to their remaining years could be accurately defined as Larceny (“a crime that is committed when a person unlawfully takes personal property or assets belonging to another person”). To abscond with the assets rightfully owned by the Almighty and devote them to personal comfort or gain is an approach to post-career life that reflects the pattern embraced by the Rich Fool, as described and denounced by Jesus in Luke 12.
The alternative to Larceny is Legacy (“value passed from one generation to another with clear intent and expectation”). For Christians who have age-elevated within their career and family systems (from parent to patriarch), Legacy opens the door to active engagement with the next generation, investing and elevating them into greater capacity for meaningful impact.
Smart leaders reach their senior years with accumulated capacity to enable their future. Wise leaders reach that same point of potential and realize that the leverage strategies they used to arrive at that critical juncture can be utilized to multiply impact through their next-gen power protégés.
Models for Larceny abound; advocated by American ideals, the encouragement of self-interest among those now in their “Golden Years” is accepted without challenge. “You’ve earned it!”
Models for Legacy are infrequent, less elevated, but more significant and satisfying than any alternative can offer. They really are “the one less traveled,” but all evidence points to the extraordinary superiority of that very intentional paradigm-of-choice.
Legacy is more caught than taught; it is more organic than organized. The opportunity to model Legacy is often not understood but is essential to help later-stage leaders (like me) to maximize their lifetime impact, both within their family systems and within the Kingdom family.
I’m no longer leading; I hit my “use-by date,” and it was time. Faced with a new season, Cheri and I are now on the path to Legacy and living with leverage, which multiplies impact to 100x potential.
You’ll hear more about this Legacy business in my next installment; it’s God’s design!