By Robert J. Tamasy
“Legacy” is a term we hear a lot these days. Perhaps as people get older, they wonder how they will be remembered, if at all. If you were to build an enduring legacy, what would you want it to be? A substantial financial portfolio, reflecting the rewards of professional success? Maybe you would like your name attached to a building on a college campus or a wing of a hospital. Some people might wish to become “household names,” achieving prominence and recognition within their industry or field of endeavor.
Thinking of having a legacy evokes the image of a pebble thrown into a pond creating ripples that radiate outward. There is one problem with that: Some pebbles cause larger ripples than others, but eventually all ripples disappear. The greatest legacies continue for many years, perhaps for eternity.
Recently I attended the memorial service for a longtime friend, Roger Erickson, who served for 10 years as the first President of CBMC International after its reorganization in 1987. When I was hired by CBMC-USA in 1981 to oversee its written publications, Roger was one of the first people I met. The impact he made on my life over the years, along with thousands of other people, is immeasurable.
At the service, Roger was remembered as a “discipler of men” and “fisher of men.” For decades he fulfilled God’s call on his life, investing in other men by introducing some to Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord and coming alongside new believers to assist them in their spiritual journey. Jesus Christ’s Great Commission to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19) was paramount in Roger’s mind.
Without question, he left behind a legacy with eternal impact. By his own admission, Roger was far from perfect, but he possessed a number of characteristics that enabled him to serve God and leave an indelible mark on those the Lord brought into his life. Here are some of those traits:
Relentless. His dedication to discipling others never wavered. I had the privilege of collaborating with Roger on his book about the disciplemaking process, Fruit That Won’t Spoil, imparting his insights so others could benefit. “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be firm, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Great conviction. Roger never wavered in his understanding of his dependence on the Lord and His Spirit to accomplish anything of eternal value. “If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing…. I chose you and appointed you that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last” (John 15:5,16).
Highly disciplined. Whether it was spending time studying the Bible to grow closer to God; memorizing Scripture verses; being faithful to challenge other men in their spiritual growth, or exhorting others to join in making disciples, Roger remained determined and intentional. “…I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).
Generous. Generosity was another of Roger’s traits, whether it was giving of his time and energy, or using his personal resources to benefit others and help to advance the cause of Christ in the business and professional world. In the process, he was abundantly blessed. “…remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).
I was also lucky enough to meet Roger Erickson personally in the 90s, shortly after my conversion to Christ. I believe that his active dedication to his ministry came from the desire to feel deeply his closeness to God, and God, responding to this, endowed and rewarded him with all these qualities of a worthy Lord’s servant. (A.Zaichenko, Protestant Newspaper).