The Shoulders We Stand On: Your Legacy of Faith
None of us stands alone – on their own. We all stand on the shoulders of someone who came before us; someone who laid a foundation, set an example, taught us, mentored us, led us, and loved us.
Whose shoulders are you standing on?
Standing on the Shoulders of the Greats
Joshua Stood on Moses’ Shoulders
Joshua served under Moses for many years. He watched Moses lead and learned from his example. He learned what it is to lead well.
Joshua witnessed Moses’ faith and his devotion to God, and he learned what it is to follow God unconditionally, faithfully. Moses mentored Joshua, encouraged Joshua. Moses gave Joshua the confidence he needed to continue on after he was gone.
Deuteronomy 31:7-8 The Message (MSG)
Then Moses summoned Joshua. He said to him with all Israel watching, “Be strong. Take courage. You will enter the land with this people, this land that God promised their ancestors that he’d give them. You will make them the proud possessors of it. God is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry.”
When you needed encouragement, confidence, and direction, who was there for you? Who demonstrated to you what faith and devotion and faithfulness to God looks like?
Who was your Moses?
Elisha Stood on Elijah’s Shoulders
When Elisha was called to be a prophet, he served for about 7 or 8 years under Elijah, watching Elijah’s example. Elijah taught him, guided him and mentored him. Elijah laid the foundation for Elisha to stand on when it was time for him to take the lead. And when Elijah was taken up into heaven, Elisha continued on doing the work of the Lord that Elijah started.
Is there someone who took you on as an assistant or an apprentice when you were young and inexperienced?
Who is it that laid a foundation for you to stand on after they were gone?
Who was your Elijah?
Timothy Stood on Paul’s Shoulders
The apostle Paul believed in Timothy and believed he had a lot to give to the kingdom of God. So, he took Timothy under his wing and trained him, coached him, walked alongside him.
Paul took Timothy with him on his missionary journeys and allowed Timothy to learn by experiencing first hand what it is to be passionate and courageous and to sacrifice for the cause of Christ. Timothy witnessed the difficulties and dangers associated with being God’s missionaries, and he witnessed how Paul faced those difficulties and dangers. Timothy witnessed Paul give his all for Jesus. In Philippians 1:21, when Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” he wasn’t just giving lip service. He meant it. He lived it. And he died for it. This was the legacy Paul left for Timothy.
Paul invested a lot in Timothy. Before his death, Paul wrote Timothy two letters giving him instructions and preparing him for ministry. We can still read those letters today (1 & 2 Timothy).
In your life, who has demonstrated passion and courage and sacrifice in following Christ? Who has instructed you and brought you along with them so you could experience the life of a disciple first hand?
Who was your Paul?
John Mark Stood on Barnabas’ Shoulders
Barnabas was Paul’s co-laborer and his good friend. They traveled together and spread the message of hope in Jesus together.
In the same way that Paul took young Timothy under his wing, Barnabas took young John Mark under his.
Acts 15:36-38 New Living Translation
“ …Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.’ Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work.”
Paul felt John Mark was unreliable and wanted to cut him loose.
Barnabas felt John Mark was worth another chance.
Barnabas didn’t want to give up on John Mark. He believed in John Mark so much that he separated from Paul and went his own way so that he could continue to mentor John Mark. As a result, John Mark, also known as just Mark, went on to become a well-known evangelist and authored the second gospel, the gospel of Mark. (Imagine if Barnabas had not stuck by John Mark…not gospel of Mark? Just Matthew, Luke and John?)
Who is it that believed in you and stood by you when others didn’t? What people invested in you and made sacrifices for you? Who encouraged you in your faith and challenged you to become all you could be for the kingdom?
Who was your Barnabas?
We All Stand on Somebody’s Shoulders
We all have people whose shoulders we stand on. Those people who made a difference in our lives; who have helped to strengthen our faith; people who are examples for us to follow; a great cloud of witnesses.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
We have biblical examples of the faith to follow, and we have people in our lives who have set examples of faith for us to follow. Because of their examples, we have the encouragement we need to fix our eyes on Jesus and run the race we’ve been given to run without giving up.
The Shoulders I Stand On
There have been many people in my life who have invested in me, mentored me, taken me under their wing, loved me, challenged me, believed in me, and set an example for me to follow.
MaryLou was the retired woman who led a bible study for young women when I first became a Christian. It was my very first bible study. I was welcomed into her home, along with several other young women, as she shared her wisdom with us week after week. We learned what it was to be a woman of God from her example. She taught us about love and mercy. We watched her care lovingly for her aging husband who had suffered a stroke and could no longer speak – except to say, “mama”. She spent extra time with me when I was struggling to make some important life decisions. She prayed with me and for me.
RoseMarie was one of my college professors (Elementary Ed.). She taught me to love the unlovable; to devote my life to serving God by serving “the least of these”, and she taught me to give God nothing but my very best. RoseMarie challenged me to give God my excellence, not mediocrity. She cared for us, her students, like we were her own kids. As a result, I learned to care for my own students like they were my own kids.
Lynne was my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) teaching leader. Year after year, Lynne shared her love for Jesus, her bible knowledge, and her wisdom with me (and hundreds of others). I grew to be a bible teacher and a leader as she taught me and trained me and prepared me. Her advise and guidance gave me direction. By her example, I learned to love God’s word and discovered how God reveals himself to us in every page. I know God better and love God more fully because of Lynne’s investment in my life.
Luanne was my other mom; my spiritual mom. She taught me what it looks like to forgive and be forgiven. She stood by me during some of my darkest moments and loved me when I felt unlovable. Her vulnerability and honesty inspired trust. Because she was open about her own flaws and shortcomings, I learned what it is to be a recipient of God’s grace.
These women are only a few of the people who nurtured my faith, helped me develop my gifts, believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and were there for me when I needed them. They invested not only their time in me; they invested themselves in me. In part, because of them, my faith is what it is today.
These women were my Moses, my Elijah, my Paul, my Barnabas; and I was their Joshua, their Elisha, their Timothy, their John Mark. It is their shoulders I stand on.
Who Will Stand on Your Shoulders?
Three of these women are no longer with us. They left a legacy for me and others like me to follow just like Moses and Elijah, and Paul, and Barnabas did.
What legacy will you leave behind?
Will there be someone to carry on the work of the gospel when you’re gone?
Who will stand on your shoulders?
Who is your Joshua?
Are you training others for future leadership? How are you demonstrating what faithfulness looks like? Will you show those who will come behind you what it looks like to unwaveringly follow God wherever he leads – as Moses did?
Who is your Elisha?
Are you preparing someone to take your place in ministry after you’re gone the way Elijah prepared Elisha? Is there someone who assists you as you serve, learning from your example?
Who is your Timothy?
Do you take someone with you when you minister to others? Have you taken anyone under your wing? Are you mentoring and training that person the way Paul mentored and trained Timothy? Will you share your words of wisdom with them the way Paul did when he wrote to Timothy?
Who is your John Mark?
Who needs you to believe in them the way Barnabas believed in John Mark; when they don’t even believe in themselves? Are you offering a second chance to someone that maybe no one else will? Do you sacrifice for and walk alongside that person so that they will become the servant of God they are meant to be?
Are You Leaving a Legacy of Faith?
What kind of a legacy are you leaving?
Are you making an impact on the faith of the next generation?
What are you doing to prepare the generations behind you to love and lead and serve and build God’s kingdom?
The best way we can honor the legacy of those whose shoulders we stand on is to do for the next generation what they did for us. Click To Tweet
Today, I want you to ask yourself how you can do that. How can you pass on your experience and your wisdom and your faith? Ask God who it is that he is calling you to invest in.
Maybe it’s a young mother who needs support and encouragement.
Or, a struggling woman who needs a mentor.
Will you invest in the children who need to hear the stories of Jesus and learn about faith.
Or, spend time with teens who need people to demonstrate genuine faith for them.
Maybe God is calling you to mentor new believers who need to find their place in God’s family and discover what it is to be a follower of Christ.
These may be the future Sunday School teachers.
Or the future missionaries.
Or the future pastors.
They are the future mercy givers and evangelists and leaders.
If we don’t invest in them, who will?
We can choose to be part of their great cloud of witnesses – part of the faithful who showed them what it is to have a faith that endures.
If you’re not already investing in the lives of those who may one day stand on your shoulders, I encourage you today to seek out ways you can begin.
The next generation is counting on you.
Read more about growing your faith.
Need more hope? We’d love to stay connected. Sign up here and get tons of faith-filled freebies including a prayer journal, memory verse cards, printable art and more. Grab the freebies below…
Get FREE instant access to Extravagant Hope’s eCourse,
How to Respond When You Hear God Speak: Steps to Take When You Don’t