Often when we think of legacy, it’s in terms of what are we leaving behind us materially. We can’t take it with us. We never see a hearse followed by an armored car filled with gold.
We wonder are we leaving enough to support our families. Or are we burdening them with debt and obligations?
This is part of our legacy. We need to provide for and protect our loved ones.
But our legacy is so much more than that.
We’re also leaving behind people. How will be remembered by others? How have we helped them be the best people they can be? This doesn’t just apply to our children, although they are our greatest responsibility in this area. An excellent book on this is Heritage: A Father’s Influence to the Generations by Tom Lane. I highly recommend it.
But there are others we’ve influenced. Neighbors, co-workers, employees, employers. If we serve in our church in any capacity, we have the opportunity to influence, for good or ill, those we come in contact with.
We establish a legacy by what we say and do. Do we profess to be Christian, but flip off a driver who irritates us? Or do we irritate other drivers? Do we work on a project team, but tell the boss we did most of the work? If we own a business, do we pay our employees a livable wage? How do we treat our customers? Do we stand behind our product?
Before we moved to Texas, I shopped at the same stores my father had, and used the same auto mechanic. Why? Because I watched my Dad and discovered he patronized those businesses because he trusted them. Because he trusted them, I trusted them. Those businesses created a legacy that passed from generation to generation.
If we serve in church, do we do it to help others? Or are we sometimes motivated by the need to be noticed and promoted? I was like this, serving but looking to use it for promotion. I wanted people to notice me.
Now, I still serve in church, but I’ve learned to do it as a servant. Is there a need I can fill? If God says, “Yes,” I do it. I no longer do it to be noticed or promoted. Recently, I’ve been asked to take on a leadership role. After praying and consulting with my wife, I turned it down. Not because I wasn’t capable, but because God has taught me humility and to follow his direction.
He’s teaching me my legacy is to follow him and give him the glory and the credit. My legacy is mentoring, teaching, and guiding those he brings across my path whether it’s in writing or church. My legacy is to support, encourage, and help without seeking credit or promotion.
This has been a significant paradigm shift for me. One-hundred-eighty degrees.
God has changed my focus from, “Look at all I can do,” to “how can I help others find their place in God,” whether it be in their writing careers, in their personal finances, in their relationships.
This has been very humbling for me and it is still very much a work in process.
I’m not leaving just a material legacy. I want to leave a legacy of inspiring others to serve and to find their calling and their place in God’s plan.
What kind of legacy do you think you’re leaving?