Legacy- What is the one thing you can do to leave the most dramatic legacy in your region?
Recently Diane and I enjoyed a ministry trip to Traverse City, Michigan to work with a group of leaders and establish Missional community that would bring about regional transformation. While preparing for the trip I read an article about an early missionary to the area named Peter Dougherty. Peter ministered effectively among the Native Americans by providing religious studies, education, trade, farming, and medical care. But nothing compares to the legacy he left that prepared his region for transformation:
Against everyone’s advice, in 1852, Dougherty planted a cherry tree.
They say that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. In this case it was 150 years ago. Michigan was a remote forested region that attracted and sustained a thriving logging industry for generations, but once the trees are cut, it’s 25 years before the saplings are able to be harvested again. It didn’t take long for the logging industry to diminish.
Thanks to Dougherty, Traverse City is now the Cherry capital of the world, they even dedicated a monument to him in the city. Hundreds of thousands of people travel to the region every year to celebrate the Cherry Festival and 80% of the world’s cherries come from this region.
If the best time to plant a tree is 30 years ago, the second best time to plant a tree is today.
As leaders in God’s kingdom you and I are called to reach souls, equip the saints and transform the spheres of society in the world around us. According to the history books it’s clear that Dougherty did all three. But perhaps his greatest achievement was to transform the economy of an entire region for generations to come.
Every believer is a full time minister. Every believer. Yet, only about 2% will ever make their living from home full-time church ministry. The other 98% will earn their living in some other field or vocation. Some will be doctors, some lawyers, some business people, some entertainers.
Through our vocations we have the power to transform society.
You could discover the cure for cancer, or create a successful business that does good around the world. You could become a political leader that helps guide your nation toward greater justice and prosperity. Yet it will never happen until you plant your cherry tree.
What is your cherry tree? What is the one thing that you can do that no one else does in quite the same way? And out of all the things you can do, what one thing will make the most dramatic impact on the course of humanity? What do you want your legacy to be?