Every parent leaves something for their children by which they will be remembered. We call this a legacy. A legacy is something you pass on to your children and grandchildren. The most important legacy we can pass down to those that follow us are our spiritual values and testimony of what God has done for us.
The older a person becomes, the more they value their legacy. This is because of an increased awareness of the brevity and frailty of life and how precious it is. Time and relationships are seen differently. Life becomes more serious as we see time and opportunities quickly compressing.
Presidents and world leaders are concerned about how others will remember them. The same is true of a father or mother for their children and future descendents. The most lasting legacy one will leave is not professionally, politically, academically or athletically, but in their family. I believe this is the dominant reason our country is in the condition it is in, for better or for worse. We are either reaping the neglect of or the careful attention of parents to invest in their children that would produce a godly legacy.
Many years ago I was attending the funeral of the father of one of our church members. It was in a small country church and because of the lack of room there were people standing around the sides of the small auditorium. I was standing in the back by the door and the family literally walked right beside me as they walked toward the front of the church. As I watched the procession of this family – good friends of mine – the children and grandchildren of this dear man that had died, my heart was stirred with compassion, but I was also struck by a powerful thought. I was literally watching the legacy of this man whose body was lying in the casket. The work he had done on their behalf was finished, but here they were in a small church walking slowly to the front to commemorate his life in a few moments. They were his legacy. It was hard to focus on the service that warm afternoon because I began to consider my own mortality and what I was leaving behind in my own children’s lives. Would it encourage them to have quality lives? Would they live for eternal values or that which was only temporal? Would I be remembered positively because of my investments in their lives?
All of us ought to take seriously the kind of legacy we are leaving behind in our children and grandchildren. Since none of us are going to live forever down here we ought to be intentional and strategic about it. There ought to be a focus and clarity on what we put into the lives and hearts of our children. Someone said, “Hope is not a strategy”. We cannot simply hope that our legacy will be one that is positive and helpful.
What are three or four qualities that you think that God wants you to begin today to pass on to those that follow after you? Take time and think about it and then establish a simple plan to make it happen. One day it will either come back to haunt you or to bring great blessing to your soul.
Marvelous words that strike to the soil of greatest challenge in our time, Pastor Rick! All those “begets” of the scriptures tell us that what we do matters and impacts those who come behind us, either for good or bad. These are thoughts that most occupy my time as I get older.
Yes, sir. I think parenting our children is the most difficult thing we can do, but also the most rewarding and fulfilling. Blessings on you, my friend!
I’m glad you defined legacy as “family”. I’ve been inclined to believe a legacy is larger – that my impact on society and the world as a whole should be paramount. But I’ve realized that maintaining such a view is noxious. Few people in history have made world-wide impacts by invention, conquest, or even more rarely, compassion.
From a sex-specific standpoint, men seem to be more concerned with leaving lasting legacies than women. Perhaps this is due to the concept of nobility. Men wish to do the noble thing (while women wish to do the nurturing thing). At any rate, the noble thing is most often the unassuming thing. Men are enticed by the idea of dying for their families, yet they overlook the more noble thing which is living for them.