Leaving behind.

What do you want to leave behind?

I was reading Phil Cooke’s One Big Thing over the weekend. He writes about being devoted to one big thing rather than many small things. In his chapter on choosing your one big thing, he says to ask four questions: “What comes easy to you? What do you love? What drives you crazy? What do you want to leave behind?”


The first two are self-explanatory. The third one he explains as thinking about the things in the world that make you angry or sad or wrecked. The injustices or the brokennesses, the processes that don’t work, the compassions that fail.

These three are familiar to me. The fourth question, while familiar, made me think differently.

I’m used to hearing the legacy question, “How do you want to be known?” Or “How do you want to be remembered?”

But what if we thought about “What do you want to leave behind” as “What do you want to make sure is working after you walk away the last time?”

So let’s think for a bit.

  • What are you a part of that you want to mend before you leave it behind?
  • What body of policies and procedures are you the one with enough discernment and experience to clarify and streamline so they point the organization in precisely the right direction?
  • What’s the collection of thank you notes that you want to strew across discouraged hearts now struggling to stay engaged?
  • What’s the street in your community that you can so love that anyone driving on it or walking along it says, “I don’t know. This place just feels different?”

Those may not be what we usually think of as a legacy. They don’t make us say, “That person was so loving.” But they show love and faithfulness. And they make a meaningful difference.

What are we devoted to leaving behind?

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