As we peer into 2012, ringing in the new year, the world is in a state of economic uncertainty and political upheaval. Hardships persist. After ringing in the new millenium in Ukraine, a young woman said she was hoping to wake up the next day and find that she and her circumstances were somehow different as if a mystical transformation would take place. But she was the same. The same problems stared back at her when she looked in the mirror and she was disappointed. The transformation we need takes place in our perspectives and in whom we place our trust. God seeks to embrace us, lift us out of our pain, frustration and deep fatigue and restore our souls. He encourages us to take hold of faith, clinging to Him who holds our dreams as we believe and work for the seemingly impossible in 2012.
We can draw inspiration from the lives of three individuals in greatly diverse fields who passed away this year leaving legacies of far-reaching impact on our world, changing the way we think, live and interact: John Stott, a prolific author credited with shaping 20th century evangelical Christianity; Vaclav Havel, Czech playwright, dissident and politician; and Steve Jobs, our modern-day Thomas Edison, innovator and entrepreneur.
The legacy of John Stott
1. Make a commitment to study the Bible.
Stott woke up at 5:00 a.m. daily to read the Bible and pray for hundreds of people before breakfast. For more than 50 years, he read the entire Bible annually.
“We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.” – John Stott
2. Make a commitment to social responsibility, starting with the needs of those around us.
“Social responsibility becomes an aspect not of Christian mission only, but also of Christian conversion. It is impossible to be truly converted to God without being thereby converted to our neighbor.” – John Stott
3. Mentor others – see the tremendous value and need for mentoring and take the time to do so.
John Stott wrote more than 50 books, crafted the Lausanne Covenant, a defining statement which launched the world evangelical movement, and an Anglican preacher, but many knew him as a mentor who personally and profoundly touched their lives. Billy Graham considered him a mentor.
4. Be salt and light in the world.
“We should not ask, ‘What is wrong with the world?’ for that diagnosis has already been given. Rather we should ask, “What has happened to salt and light?” – John Stott
5. Learn how to communicate effectively and clearly.
“He wasn’t Billy Graham,” Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary said, “but he just exuded wisdom. He was able to take difficult topics and make them plain for people who are not all that tuned in to high-level intellectual discussion, yet he had the respect of scholars. He was one of those bridge figures.”
The legacy of Vaclav Havel
6. Stand up for what is right, even if it may cost you.
A playwright, politician, dissident and intellectual, Havel gained international fame with Charter 77, a human rights manifesto which led to multiple imprisonments by the communist regime.
7. Be humble.
“As soon as man began considering himself the source of the highest meaning in the world and the measure of everything, the world began to lose its human dimension, and man began to lose control of it.” – Vaclav Havel
8. Keep your joy and child-like wonder. Be an artist, in the classic sense or otherwise.
Havel was known to roller skate in the palace in Prague.
9. When confronted with lies and hatred, respond with truth and love.
Havel may best be remembered as a symbol of democracy and freedom who once said “truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred”.
The legacy of Steve Jobs
10. Use your abilities to make a difference in the world. Be innovative, while maintaining focus and simplicity.
Or as Jobs said he desired to “make a dent in the universe”. It would be difficult to overstate the impact of his life and legacy. I don’t think many of us would know how to go back to a world without Apple products.
11. Stay married to your spouse.
Jobs did that as well. This has a greater impact on our world than we may realize and affects generations.
12. Follow your heart and passions in life. Don’t just settle.
And so I end with these words . . .
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs
What will be your legacy? Endeavor to make a difference in 2012. And may it be by the grace of Jesus Christ, bringing honor to God.