How to have legacy impact through legal ministry

Do you believe you were meant for something bigger?  Maybe not grand famous things, but something of significance and lasting value.  I believe the Creator of the Universe created you for such a purpose.  Let me show you one way to have legacy impact through legal ministry.

“Do you miss it?”

The question caught me off guard.  I was sitting in a Starbucks. One of my friends had just told the story of how I left a successful law practice to start a legal ministry.  The question forced me to confront an important reality.  My answer was an honest look back at a 27 year legal career.

“Yes – and No.”

Honestly there are moments when I miss the rush of adrenaline that comes from trial work.  Litigators are fast thinkers and the courtroom is something akin to a battlefield.  We often see ourselves as warriors doing battle.

But there was no deep satisfaction.  Clients rarely appreciated results as expectations failed to match reality.  And business consumed me.  My thoughts were occupied by client work (can I bill for thinking?) and growing the business.  Not until God shook up my world did I realize how self-centered I was.  Had God given me my business and gifted me simply for my success or did He have something bigger, more lasting in mind for me?

While I did not share all this reflection with my new friend, I did quickly move to “no”.  No, I did not miss living for myself.  I get tears every time I think of neighbors who met a lawyer and found their savior.  Each prayer and kind word that pulls someone from despair, makes a difference.  When I cared mostly for myself, my kingdom impact was tiny.  Today, God has graciously impacted the lives of thousands of people who in turn have impacted the lives of tens of thousands more.  I will meet many in heaven as a result.  There is nothing more meaningful than that!

Nothing special about me.

I write in Gospel Justice that I am a man who likes comfort and security.  You would have found me cowering in the disciple’s boat.  No way would I trust Jesus to walk on water.  But faith requires risk. If you want to have legacy impact of eternal significance you must get out of your comfort zone.

I finish the introduction with the statement,

If God can pull this lawyer out of the boat, who knows what He can do with you?

You have to take risk in order to have legacy impact

Decide.  Do you want to make a lasting difference or not?  Jesus is telling you to.  That was the point of the Good Samaritan story.  The answer to the gospel question was get in the dirt and serve the needs of vulnerable neighbors.  Invest in them.  See them restored.  Be a ‘rock of help’ to those in need.  A rock of help is an Ebenezer.  Let me share one story to demonstrate how others are having legacy impact through legal ministry.

Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church is having legacy impact through legal ministry

Ebenezer is a small congregation in Berwyn, Illinois.  They are more than 150 years old.  Years ago members determined not to leave the city.  They felt called to love their neighbors even as the neighborhood changed.  That service DNA has welcomed neighbors through a food pantry, after school programs and most recently a legal ministry.

As the church prayed for deeper ways to impact the community, a successful doctor was praying for how she could use her business for deeper impact.    Dr. Renee shares the story of God capturing her heart through a patient.  She and her husband provided the funds to start the ministry at Ebenezer.

Meanwhile God was using Kay Rops as His justice champion to pull together a team.  Kay visited another ministry at Park Community Church in Rogers Park.  She received all the tools needed to in her words “make the ministry simple”.  The pastor allowed her to make an announcement on a Sunday and God brought her team together.

Gospel Justice Team delivers legacy impact through legal ministry

legacy impact

Kay welcomes neighbors

This past Saturday I visited Kay and her team as we served four neighbors in need.  Sheila* was a confused mother.  Her son made poor choices as a teenager with drugs.  He was sentenced to twelve years for non-violent possession with intent to deliver cannabis.  She praised God for how her son became involved in a Bible study and is now a leader.  He’s been a model prisoner and she thinks he is eligible for release but found conflicting answers everywhere she turned.  Our prayers and connection to an attorney who can answer her question provided her hope.

Juanita* and the father of her child live together.  They get along well but the state wanted to garnish his wages for child support and charge significant fees for doing so.  Juanita gives up no right to pursue garnishment if needed in the future, but while they are together the fees needlessly penalize them.  She needed help with paperwork to present to court.  She also needed help with a driver’s license issue.  We had a lawyer we could call and get direction on how to help her with that issue as we reviewed her court paperwork.  We prayed for her and Juanita left with a great weight lifted.

Cecilia* had been at the church food pantry and learned of the clinic.  She wanted a place she could trust.  As she met with the intake specialist it became apparent her need was medical, not legal.  So Cecilia met with the client advocate who helped find resources for her, pray with her, and provide her direction.  Often issues aren’t legal, but the ministry opportunity remains.

Dina* needed help understanding credit issues.  She was trying to be proactive but faced information overload on her own.  She was so thankful to find a trusted resource to turn to.  The prayer, concern and compassion nearly brought her to tears.

You can have legacy impact through legal ministry.

Statia is a young lawyer.  She appreciates the opportunity to use her skills to make a difference.  If you are near Berwyn she would love to have other lawyers join her.   Serving is easy – two to three hours one Saturday a month – but impact is huge.

Jessica and Sue Lenny are young ladies who work in the same business.  When they learned they were both Christian they became fast friends.  Jessica helps clients with forms when they arrive.  Sue Lenny helps clients after they meet with an attorney to ensure they understand their next steps and provide them with additional resources.  Marge helps with hospitality and watching children.  Many others pray.  Together they make a difference.  They are having a legacy impact through legal ministry.

You can too.  Contact us to learn more.  Save the date of June 8 to attend our justice conference to learn more and meet others from across the country engaged in this ministry.  Don’t stay in your boat.  Take risk.  You were created for something bigger.  Leave a legacy through legal ministry.

*names changed.

About Bruce Strom

I am a lawyer, pastor, CEO, and author of Gospel Justice who builds communities of justice minded Christians to free people from legal burdens so they can flourish. I didn’t always care about justice. I was busy as the senior partner of a successful multi-office law practice. But I missed something. God was less concerned about me building my kingdom and more concerned about how I was advancing His kingdom. I left private practice to start Administer Justice to serve the least of these with their legal needs. Over 20 years later, churches, lawyers, and individuals across the country are joining a movement to Administer Justice for those in need.