What Will They Say?

If you had to describe yourself using just 5 words, what would they be? Better yet, if I asked people who knew you, what would they say?

A few years ago I turned 40 and was telling a friend how good it felt. How it really seemed to be true what they say, you kind of “come into yourself” and don’t care so much about what people think about you. Her response was the following anecdote. Funny…and also, by and large, true. At least I think so…

She said: “When you’re 20 you worry about what other people think about you. When you’re 40 you don’t care what other people think about you. When you’re 60 you realize…other people AREN’T thinking about you!”* Interesting perspective…egocentric beings that we are.

*Thanks for the insight, Jeni! Hope I didn’t botch it too bad!


So, despite that fun little pearl of wisdom, what I’m wondering today is this: even if no one’s thinking about us (in the self-absorbed way we tend to view our teeny little existence in the world), how do we ultimately want to be perceived by our fellow inhabitants of planet earth? What kind of legacy do we want our lives to leave? How would we want people to describe what we represent? Think like this: “You’ve just got to meet ‘X’ (that’s YOU!). He/She is…”

Last fall I was thinking about Jesus. How would people have described this guy – particularly during His three years in public ministry? What would they have said to their friends and relatives that would have caused His reputation to precede Him as He traveled from place to place? Based on what we know from Scripture, these are some words I came up with:

Intentional. Jesus didn’t do things haphazardly or aimlessly. He went from point A to point B knowing that it would lead to point C. He knew that every relationship, every interaction, every opportunity – mattered. He always had a plan. And it was a big one.

Passionate. Jesus was wildly passionate. Whether he was teaching about the Kingdom of God, overturning tables in the temple or agonizing with His Father in a garden hours before His death. He was a man with a full range of emotions – and He was not afraid to show them.

Bold. Jesus spoke with authority. He never second-guessed Himself. He always took the opportunity to say the most important thing – even when it was difficult or unpopular.

Selfless. I think the best examples of this are when Jesus wanted to get alone to pray or spend time with His friends, maybe to re-charge a bit (don’t we all need that?). He would see the needs of people and allow Himself to be “distracted.” To heal one more sickness. To teach one more truth. To speak one more word of hope.

Empowering. From day one of His ministry – starting with His baptism by John – Jesus not only wanted participation in ministry but leadership. He never set out to be the “be all, end all” for a hurting world – at least, not in terms of “hands-on, day-to-day, gritty, faith-sometimes-smaller-than-a-mustard-seed” outreach.  He patiently trained people up – slow to learn, “big picture” limited, imperfect, messed up people – and sent them out on His behalf.

So, my next question is this: if you had the next three years to finish the most important thing that you were put on planet earth to do, what would that look like? What 5 words would people use to describe you? What would your “life legacy” be?…


For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand,
that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *