There is a commonly made comparison between the lives of “Max Jukes” and Jonathan Edwards. Edwards lived a life of integrity and godliness, and Jukes lived a life of rebellion and ungodliness. Jukes was a criminal who’s descendants became criminals, prostitutes and alcoholics. Edwards was a Christian minister who’s descendants became ministers, college professors, authors, and government leaders.
For some, the point of the comparison is to show that good and bad character is in the genes. Others use it to show the value of education, or the power of opportunity. Some reject the facts in the stories and say there is nothing significant about it.
Regardless of how true some of the facts are about these stories, the principle found here is strong: a life lived with integrity leaves a positive legacy. Jukes v. Edwards is not the only comparison one can make. Think about some of the prominent leaders and criminals of history, and what sort of legacy they have left.
Above all, these stories prompt me to consider what sort of legacy I am leaving. Stan Toler says it well:
Integrity cannot be faked; the future will bring it to light… integrity isn’t available on eBay. Neither can you borrow it from another. It comes by diligent effort. ((Stan Toler, Practical Guide for Pastoral Ministry. (Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2011), 60.))
For myself as a new pastor, this effort includes frequent prayer, Scripture reading, and a refusal to allow secular standards for leadership to infiltrate my ministry.
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