The following is a report on the practical applications of Jeff O'Leary's new book, Footprints in Time: Fulfilling God’s Destiny for Your Life, (Nelson Books, 2006).


Of the billions of people who have lived throughout history, many aren’t remembered. But some have lived such remarkable lives that time can’t erase their legacies. They were just ordinary people, yet they lived in extraordinary ways that inspired future generations. Such a legacy is within your own reach if you follow their examples of faith.

 

Here’s how you can leave a powerful legacy:

 

* Seek God. Make it your top priority in life to pursue God and grow closer to Him with each passing day.

 

* Find and follow your calling. Ask God to reveal what contributions He wants you to make to the world. Invite Him to use your life in powerful ways. Then obey His will and set out to fulfill His purposes for your life.

 

* Don’t settle for less than God’s best. Know that there’s much more to life than just making money to pay bills and putting together some harmonious relationships. Don’t just get by; choose to live with passion. Focus beyond the mundane to the eternal. Pursue eternal values so your life will have lasting significance. Learn what’s truly important and what’s not, and don’t waste time or energy on pursuits that don’t really matter.

 

* Defeat hopelessness with courage. When you encounter a situation that’s morally wrong, refuse to accept it and decide to do something about it. Be willing to place other people’s needs before your own. Consider the victory of your cause more important than even your own survival, and be willing to pay whatever cost you need to pay to right the wrong. Remember that death is not the end, but the beginning of a better life. Throw yourself into the fray rather than cowing before it. Do whatever is necessary to protect your honor.

 

* Act with the integrity of a clear conscience. Listen carefully to the quiet inner voice of the conscience God gave you – and heed what it says. Realize that God often speaks to you through your conscience. Understand that integrity is formed one decision at a time. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you constantly as you make choices. Live to please God alone, regardless of what other people think of you. Recognize that your daily decisions will create habits, which in turn will create your future self. Make the kinds of decisions that will help you reflect Christ more and more. Expect to experience discord when your integrity makes others uncomfortable with their own choices. Be willing to endure friction and persecution so that you can inspire others when you stand strong, and ultimately cause them to examine their own lives. Keep a clear vision of the finish line of faith – the moment you meet Christ in person at the end of your life – and strive to live in a way you’ll be pleased with then. Whenever you make mistakes, pray for fresh forgiveness and the grace to keep growing.

 

* Focus your energy. Fight back against distractions that keep you from fulfilling your God-given destiny. Don’t let your dreams be crushed under the weight of your mundane responsibilities. Instead, develop a fierce and tenacious concentration on what God is calling you to do. Pray for the discipline you need to stay focused on your calling and devote yourself to it – no matter what your circumstances – so your energy doesn’t get dissipated. Don’t try to walk both God’s path and the world’s path; choose to stay on God’s path by giving Him your whole heart. Recognize that you can accomplish more than you can imagine when you focus your energy. Stretch yourself on a regular basis as you pursue your mission. Remember that if you’re diligent, God will ultimately bring about good results from your dedication, and you won’t be disappointed.

 

* Face failure with tenacity. Ask God to help you develop an indomitable spirit and an unbreakable will. Understand that dogged persistence will aid you greatly in the face of seemingly impossible problems or overwhelming odds. Don’t despair when you encounter misfortune; instead learn from the experience so you can become a stronger person. Remember that many people who came before you have survived and even thrived under enormous pressure. Overcome fear. Decide to act with courage, even when you don’t feel courageous, trusting that God will than build courage into you. Keep pressing ahead with confidence until you break through the barrier that has been stumping you. Pray persistently. Learn from your mistakes, and try again. Know that success will often come after many failures, and if you give up, you’ll never know how close you were to success. Never give up!

 

* Pursue wisdom with a passion. Recognize that great value in wisdom, and know that it’s worth pursuing, whatever the cost. Know that God is the source of all true wisdom. Pray daily for Him to give you a passion for learning, renew your mind, and help you discern all He would like you to understand. Be willing to work hard at whatever tasks God calls you to undertake, giving your very best and being alert for what God wants to teach you through your experiences. Know that you should never stop learning, no matter how old you become. Keep asking questions, listening, reading, and seeking out wisdom until you die. Spend more time on education than you do on entertainment. Strive to be contributor more than a consumer. Stay current and competitive in your field of work. Discuss current events and biblical issues with your family and friends on a regular basis, such as at mealtimes and in the car. Learn how to listen well to other people. Pass on your own wisdom to others, such as your kids.

 

* Dare to do the impossible. Honestly consider whether or not your dreams are too small – and if they are, enlarge them. Ask God to reveal His big dreams for your life, and embrace them. Be bold about taking risks to make those dreams come true. Be willing to make sacrifices necessary to pursue God’s vision for your life. Remember that Christ is worth everything it costs you to follow Him to change the world.

 

* Take the long view. Ask God to give you His perspective on challenging situations in your life. Expect suffering in our fallen world, but look beyond that to see how suffering helps you become more mature and sensitive to Christ’s love and other people’s pain.

 

* Don’t squander time. Remember that every moment you live is a gift, and decide to use it as well as you possibly can.

 

* Beware of idols that can cause you to stumble. Regularly take inventory of your thoughts and behaviors to make sure you’re not devoting yourself to fame, beauty, power, wealth, or possessions more than you are to God. Keep your relationship with God your top priority. Forsake everything that threatens to take your attention away from Him.

 

* Say “no” to self and “yes” to Christ. Be willing to pick up your cross and follow Christ by giving Him full authority in every area of your life – with no exceptions. If God allows challenges like economic deprivation, physical ailments, or persecution in your life, accept them and do all you can to learn from them. Trust God to provide all you need. Embrace the whole Gospel message, even when it makes you uncomfortable, and let it stretch you to become the person God intends you to be.

 

* Be faithful to the end. Realize that fulfilling God’s plans for your life may involve great personal costs. Don’t shrink back from what He asks you to do; trust Him. Don’t stop short of completing the work God has given you to do. Be willing to lay down your pride, reputation, possessions, and even your life so that God’s will can be accomplished through you. Hold onto your life with an open hand, ready to give whatever you need to give to serve God faithfully. Ask Him to help you commit your heart fully to Him. Remember that anything you might lose for His sake in this life means nothing compared to the treasure that awaits you when you meet Christ face to face.


Adapted from Footprints in Time: Fulfilling God’s Destiny for Your Life, copyright 2006 by Jeff O’Leary.  Published by Nelson Books, a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com.

Colonel Jeff O'Leary (ret.) served more than 22 years in the United States Air Force and retired from the Pentagon in 2002 as a full colonel. Throughout his career he was awarded the Legion of Merit, three Air Medals, the Southwest Asia Service Medal with two Battle Stars, and an Outstanding Unit Award with Valor. After retiring he founded Mission of Joy, a ministry to homeless and orphaned children in India. His other books include the New York Times bestseller America Out of the Ashes, and the CBA bestseller Brave Hearts Under Red Skies.He and his wife, Cindy, have been married for twenty-nine years. They have six children, five living.