For those of you who may not know, I am leaving my present job and searching for a new one. God has made it abundantly clear through many different things that this is the choice that I need to make. I do not know what God has for me, but I know that He is good, and that He will take me to the vocation He wants me to have.
I have agonized over how to say my final goodbyes to my peers and students. The past few weeks have been bittersweet to say the least. This has been a time of many farewell’s and thank you’s.
As long as there have been humans on earth there have been farewells. One of the most poignant that I have ever read is found in the book of Acts chapter 20. Here Paul had to say goodbye to some dear friends in Ephesus. This was a better speech than I will ever be able to make, so I am going to use it instead of my own words.
In this passage, Paul has reminded the Ephesian elders that they had seen him night and day for three years. You see, Paul had started this church from scratch. For three years God had worked through Paul so that the gospel had spread throughout all asia minor (Acts 19:10). Paul and the Ephesians even suffered through a riot (Acts 19:21-41)! They had fought and bled together for the sake of the gospel.
Yet Paul’s concern is not really about the past. His concern is what will happen to them in the future. So Paul reminds them of his testimony. Paul never took their money, and he never backed down from teaching and preaching the gospel. He worked so that no one could accuse him of spreading the gospel for money. Paul was not a promoter of himself; he was a promoter of God. Can we say that we have that kind of testimony? No one could bring a charge against Paul. Could someone bring one against you? What other motives do you have when you minister?
As I told many of my students, I have tried to be a godly example to them. Yet they have seen me–warts and all–for the past 4 years. They have seen me in good times and in bad times. They know how flawed I am. My prayer is that they saw a flawed person who showed a love for music, his students, and God. I can never be a great man. There are no truly “great” men; there is only a great God.
I want to zero in on the last part of the speech. Acts 20:32–“And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” What final thing could Paul say to encourage them? What could I use to encourage my own students?
Firstly, Paul tells the Ephesian elders that even though Paul’s ministry with them was ending, God’s ministry with them would never end. Paul directs their gaze to the greatest teacher and leader they would ever know: God himself. God is the one who will never leave or forsake them. His mercies are new every morning. God is the one who really began the work in salvation, and God will not fail to complete it.
Secondly, Paul commends the Ephesians to the Word of His grace. Paul points the Ephesians to the true source of knowledge. Paul points them to the Word of God. It is the Bible that builds up a person. Paul wanted to instill in the Ephesians a passion for God and the Word. In short, Paul wanted to leave behind a community of God-worshipers, people with a passion for God and His Word. This is the legacy Paul hoped would last.
I want all my students to become great musicians. We have learned a great deal of solfege and rhythm syllables for that very purpose! However, I would much rather they left my teaching ministry saying, “I want to use these skills Mr. Snyder taught me for the glory of God. Mr. Snyder pointed me to the Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to the Word of His grace. I will continue to show the love of God to others, even the new music teacher. I will pour encouragement on the new music teacher and give him/her the grace they need so that they have a great first year. I will develop and use these talents for God during the rest of my life.” Now that would be a legacy.