I have been writing about leaving a godly legacy in the lives of our children and our grandchildren and that this legacy is a byproduct of an authentic life and close walk with the Lord rather than setting your heart on being remembered in a certain way. This principle is clearly taught in Deuteronomy 4:9-10 where three responsibilities are given to parents that, if fulfilled, will help to set the pace for their children (and others – grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and those that know you well) to go on and know and serve the Lord Jesus with great passion. The first responsibility is to set a good example.
Years ago I read, “You impress people at a distance, but you impact them up close”. It is when people see us up close that a spiritual legacy is begun. This is one of the key principles of making disciples (Mark 3:14). People may be impressed by our command and recall of facts, but they are impacted by the example of an authentic life of grace, kindness, love, and purity.
God emphasized the importance of our personal obedience to His Word and the ensuing blessing He will give to a nation (and a person) in several places in the Bible. In the following passage note the responsibility of obedience God gives to His people and the corresponding blessings when we do so.
“Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” (Deuteronomy 4:5-8)
Let me illustrate the power of example from my father’s life and how it greatly impacted me. As a young teenager I wasn’t reading my Bible regularly, but I remember walking down the hall to my room at bedtime and going by my parent’s bedroom. Each night I saw my father lying in bed reading the Bible with great attention. He faithfully did this and it spoke deeply to me. God began to convict my heart because of my failure to do so. It was the example of my father that spoke deepest to me, not his words. His example in faithfully reading his Bible made me realize that this was an important value to him and it should be important to me, too.
We do not reproduce what we want, but we reproduce what we are. A legacy of children and grandchildren that walk with the Lord is not accidental, but the result of what we as parents do first – not what we want them to be.
Someone said, “Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice”. Our kids aren’t going to do what we say, but what we do! Are you expecting those under your authority to follow your advice instead of your example? They will not do so for the long term. They will be influenced more by what you are and what you do than what you say. God will honor your obedience and example to touch the hearts of your children – even after you have passed on.
This is such a serious matter. To fail to provide a good example does not leave a neutral affect on our children, but rather will allow them to follow their own heart to destruction (Proverbs 14:12). Francis Bacon wrote, “He that gives good advice builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other”.
So, one key to making an impact is through the example of a godly life! When you apply what you have heard taught from God’s Word it not only changes you, but also affects those that watch you! When your children see that God is real and has worked in your life they want what you have. (Read Deuteronomy 4:5-8 above again as it reinforces this truth). I’ll give some other ways from the Bible in later blogs as to how we can perpetuate a legacy worth having.
I want to leave my children the inheritance of a good example from my life; one that is worthy of them following. They will never be able to claim a legacy of my being a great athlete, a successful businessman, a famous person or one with great power or riches. But I can leave them the inheritance of a good name and a godly example. And that has staying power. Be a hero to your sons and daughters because of the kind of life you have lived.
“The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example”. (Benjamin Disraeli)