Henry Wadsworth Longfellow used the phrase “Footprints on the sands of time” in one of his poems to describe the mark that great individuals leave on history. You may say that you are not a great individual, but I would argue that we all have an opportunity to be great in some way and to someone. With that thought in mind, I want us to consider a very important question. What impression is your footprint leaving behind?
The word footprint can be used many ways.
- In detective work, a footprint can be evidence that is left behind to show what happened in the past.
- In archaeology, footprints have been found preserved in fossils that document prehistoric life.
- In the Tech world, we have a digital footprint that we usually unintentionally leave behind that often opens us up to identity threats
- Today we hear much about our Ecological or Carbon footprint in understanding how our earthly resources will last
- The one I am most familiar with is a corporate or business footprint
I completed my college degree and spent the majority of my career in Health Care Management, so this was a common focus for me. From a business footprint perspective, I want to share a quote from an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “A Strategic Guide to Adjusting Your Corporate Footprint”.
“Assessing the enterprise footprint and executing the recommended realignments are not small endeavors. Footprint optimization can be costly and time consuming. But companies able to do so are realizing short-term financial benefits and are likely better positioning themselves for long-term success.” 1
Why did I share this? Because every single one of us are leaving behind a footprint, if at the end of this blog you realize that you want to change your footprint, the good news is, you still can!
This article states that from a business perspective, it can be costly and time consuming but worth it to realize both short term and long term benefits. In our natural and spiritual walk, we too have an opportunity to assess our footprint and determine if realignment is needed.
Our lives and how we live them, all fashion a series of footprints we leave everywhere. Additionally, our spiritual lives also leave an important footprint. Perhaps you don’t feel that you were provided the kind of legacy that you want to pass on, or you feel like you are currently failing in some area, but the good news is today is a new day and the changes you make today can positively impact everything that comes after this. If you didn’t have good footprints left for you to follow, don’t let that become an excuse. Let your footprints be the ones that change the course for all future generations that follow you!
I want to consider four of the important actions we can take to assure that we are leaving behind the optimal footprint God desires us to leave.
- We should live a life of godly character and conduct.
Basically, think about the example that you are setting.
Proverbs 13:22 NLT
Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren, but the sinner’s wealth passes to the godly.
This text deals with leaving an inheritance to our children, which is a good thing, but if all you leave your kids is a MATERIAL inheritance without leaving them a SPIRITUAL legacy, they will be impoverished, no matter how large the inheritance.
Proverbs 22:1 NLT
Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.
We live in an age of moral decline, where it seems like character hardly counts anymore. Sadly, this general lack of character and proper behavior has crept into Christianity. The character and behavior of Christ-followers is often hardly distinguishable from that of unbelievers today.
2 Peter 1:5-9 NLT
Make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. 8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
Our character and conduct should be so exemplary that we shine as lights in a dark world. As a Christ-follower, we should be different and we should act different than those who don’t know the Lord as their Savior.
Our speech should reflect that, our work ethic, and even our fiscal responsibility should be above reproach. We are a King’s kid and we should act accordingly!
1 Peter 2:9 NASU
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light
- Love extravagantly!
The second important actions we can take to assure that we are leaving behind the optimal footprint is to love extravagantly. Jesus defined this kind of love as being willing to lay down your life for others (John 15:9-10; 12-13).
Jesus displayed the ultimate love when He laid down his life for us. For most, we will never be in a situation where we will be required to lay down our life for our family, but if faced with the choice most would do it without hesitation. Extravagant love takes this kind of love and expands it across the sea of humanity. It requires our hearts to love others as we love our immediate family, even the unlovable and our worst enemies. Look how Jesus describes it in this passage.
Matthew 5:43-44 NKJV
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you’”
This kind of extravagant love requires God’s love to flow through us. We have to ask for help from the Lord to love this way, but it is this kind of love that will provide an optimal footprint. In the last verse of the famous “Love chapter” found in 1 Corinthians 13, we learn that three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. I particularly like the way the Message Bible translates that verse.
1 Corinthians 13:13 Message Bible
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
- Model Commitment
The third important action is to model commitment. Commitment is dedication to a particular organization, cause, or belief, and a willingness to get involved. People who are committed to an organization or effort truly believe that it is important, and they show up, follow through, and stick with it. With commitment, comes greater momentum to get the job done.
It seems that commitment is not as important to most people as it once was. This is especially true for the younger generation. We seem to struggle with commitment because we live in a time that has so many choices. The fear of making the wrong choice puts people in analysis paralysis and they end up not committing to any choice.
Another reason for lack of commitment is we have trust issues. In order to trust people we have to connect with people and open ourselves up to love people. We live in an age where most are only connected with their phones and pretend to be connected with people on social media.
The problem with commitment is it requires reciprocity. That means mutual exchange or giving as much as you are receiving. Too often, we fail at commitment because we are only interesting in receiving and not giving. For example, I am committed to God and that makes me want to give Him praise, I want to give Him my life, my time, my talent, and my obedience. I am committed to my husband. I strive to give in that relationship as much as I expect to receive. I am committed to my job. I don’t just show up expecting to receive a pay check when I don’t commit to perform my job. I am committed to my children, to my grandchildren, to my family and friends, and I am committed to my church! I don’t just show up when I feel like it and I try not to show up expecting to receive more than I am willing to give!
Paul describes commitment as keeping your eye on the prize and pressing toward the goal, look at how that passage reads in the Message Bible.
Philippians 3:13-16 Message Bible
13b By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward — to Jesus. 14 I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. 15 So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision — you’ll see it yet! 16 Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
Commitment leads me to the last action I want to discuss in aligning our footprint.
- Contend for the Supernatural
Contend is a strong word and it means to strive or to fight even against difficulties. We need to contend or fight for the faith or the spiritual legacy that we must leave behind.
Jude 3-4 NKJV
3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jude is specifically warning to contend against distorted or deceitful teaching in this passage. I think the verbiage here “certain men have crept in unnoticed” is interesting, because that is exactly what happens when we don’t contend for the supernatural, things creep in unnoticed that take priority over the things we should be contending for!
At the beginning of this year, the Lord told me to contend for the unprecedented. The things which eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and our minds have not imagined. There is such a temptation presented to us to just settle, to accept the status quo, but if we will do what Jude tells us to do and build ourselves up in our faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping ourselves in the love of God, we will be empowered to CONTEND FOR THE SUPERNATURAL (Jude 20-21). It will provide the spiritual footprint we want to leave behind!
There are some spiritual things we cannot afford to stop contending for!
- We need to contend for the lost souls all around us to be saved
- We need to contend for revival and for a move of God to sweep this world
- We need to contend for the unprecedented
THERE IS TOO MUCH AT STAKE FOR US TO SETTLE!
I want to close by asking you a thought provoking question. If you are on Social Media of any kind, I want to challenge you to scroll through your timeline and ask yourself, “What does your Social Media footprint look like?”
Long after we depart earth, messages, actions, and images will be left behind for future generations to see. If this social media footprint of yours was the only information the world had about you, ask yourself,
- Is the footprint represented accurate?
- What does it say about you?
- Is it the footprint you want to leave behind?
- Is it the way you want to be remembered?
While I think we could all learn a lot about our priorities by reviewing our social media posts, more importantly I want you to think about your personal and spiritual footprint. Is it the footprint you want to leave behind? If the Lord tarries, what will your children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren tell about you? What stories will those who know you as a friend or coworker, or fellow church member or neighbor say about you? This question is important not only because we are concerned about what people will think and say when we are gone, but more because we are still here and have an opportunity to make adjustments if they are needed.
- We have an opportunity to inspire, encourage, and motive others to live godly lives.
- We have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and for the Kingdom of God,
- Our decision can please our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ so we will one day hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”!
I ask you one more time to consider this important question. What impression is your footprint leaving behind?
- wsj.com 5/6/19 (Wall Street Journal April 9, 2012)