Lessons from 3 Biblical Leaders on How to Leave a Godly Legacy

My husband’s father, Roger Sr., was an amazing mentor. He intentionally instilled values in his growing young sons. What a man! What a legacy! Roger’s Dad repeatedly quipped pithy sayings to show his sons how to live a successful life.

“He who whispers down a well about the goods he has to sell will not have as many dollars as he who climbs a tree and hollers.” Speak up!

“Don’t sell your peanuts at the end of the parade.” Work hard, don’t procrastinate!

“I’m fine as frog’s hair!” ( A golfing term) Be optimistic!

Every morning his bleary-eyed son padded into the living room to find his father on his knees praying for his family. Roger Sr. resigned his highly prestigious job when his boss instructed him to cook the books and defraud the IRS. Dad faithfully brought his wife and boys to church every time the doors were open.

Roger Sr.’s pastor taught: “if you come on Sunday morning, you love the pastor. If you come on Sunday night you love the church. If you return on Wednesday night, you love Jesus.” So the Barrier family came to church, rain or shine.  

He only had one vice. Roger Sr. surreptitiously took his sons out for ice cream without telling Mom. Roger Jr. now attends a 12-Step program to beat his Rocky Road addiction.

But Papaw (his grandpa name) never wavered in his quest to imprint his two sons (and five grandkids) with Christlike character. He bowed his head at the end of his excruciating battle with bone cancer and prayed, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 

Passing the baton is an art.

Mighty Moses prepared Joshua to lead the Jews into their new homeland. Elijah successfully equipped Elisha to be his prophetic successor. Jesus artfully trained bumbling, petulant Peter to become the “Rock” of His church.

What can we learn from these Bible heroes about how to leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren?

Moses modeled courage, meekness, and obedience.

Before Joshua was sent to search out Canaan, his name was Hoshea, Hebrew for salvation. After his demonstration of faith and passion in Numbers 14:6-9, Moses called him Joshua, the Hebrew word for “Yahweh is my salvation.”

When Moses ascended Mount Sinai to talk with God, young Joshua was at Moses’ side. (Exodus 24:13-14). Joshua witnessed firsthand the power and shining glory of Yahweh. Moses modeled courage, meekness, and obedience. So when it was time to lead Israel across the Jordan to claim the Promised Land, Joshua listened to God and obeyed:

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide: "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:1-5

Elijah made a great hand-off to Elisha.

The prophet Elisha had some pretty big shoes to fill. Elijah, his “father in the faith,” called fire down from heaven and single-handedly slaughtered the prophets of Baal. Soon after, God asked Elijah to anoint a young farmer as his successor. (1 Kings 19:19-21)

Just like Joshua, Elisha’s name means “My God is my salvation.”

Elijah made a great hand-off to Elisha when he knew his earthly life was about to end. Elisha would not leave the aging prophet’s side. He witnessed his spiritual father ascend to heaven in a chariot of fire. The young prophet would not rest until he walked in the same power and anointing as Elijah:

He (Elisha) picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. "Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?" he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over. The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, "The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha. 2 Kings 2:13-15 NIV

Christ’s entire ministry was spent “passing the torch.”

Jesus devoted three and a half years to this holy task. Peter, the bumbling apprentice, was a slow learner. Jesus called the roughshod fisherman to drop his fishing nets and fish for men. (Matthew 4:18)

Christ tested Peter’s trust by asking him to walk on the waves of the stormy Galilean sea. (Matthew 14:28)

In Matthew 16:16, Christ queried, “Who do men say that I am?” After Peter declared Jesus’ deity, he failed to recognize His purpose to go to the Cross.

Peter observed His Savior gloriously transfigured, weeping uncontrollably in the Garden, and brutally crucified. Jesus revealed Himself to Peter as resurrected Lord even after Peter so cruelly denied Him. And Jesus restored His protégé at a seaside fish breakfast.

Jesus was all about on-the-job training. He pushed Peter out of the nest. Sometimes he would fly and sometimes he would fall. But when the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost, it was Peter who was ignited with Jesus’ passion and power. (Acts 2:1-41).

Look behind you. Who is following in your footsteps and where are you leading them? It’s never too late to leave a legacy.


headshot of author Dr. Julie BarrierDr. Julie Barrier, along with her pastor-husband, Dr. Roger Barrier, have taught conferences on marriage and ministry in 35 countries. The Barriers are founders and directors of Preach It, Teach It providing free resources in 10 languages to 5 million visitors in 229 countries. The Barriers pastored 35 years at Casas Church in Arizona, Julie has served as a worship minister, concert artist and adjunct professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. She has authored or composed of over 500 published works.

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