“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV)
Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value. — Albert Einstein
It surprises me how many husbands and fathers don’t spend enough time thinking about their legacy – what they will leave behind for the family that they love and the people they serve. I won’t even go into how many husbands and fathers only carry the life insurance supplied by their employer. But they seem to care more about the financial legacy they will leave than the Spiritual one that will be left behind.
But the harsh reality is that each of us is leaving a legacy whether we realize it or not or whether we want to or not. The question is whether or not it is a legacy that is positive and has far-reaching implications into the following generations. And for me, the legacy that I want to leave is a spiritual one. I want to leave one that is pleasing to God. And if it is pleasing to God, I am pretty sure I will be OK with it as well.
Webster’s dictionary defines legacy as, “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.”
Legacy is not bound by age or time served. Legacy represents your entire body of work at each stage of your life as you establish the foundational building blocks of a family and accumulate the required wisdom to contribute to the success of that family unit. Your legacy grows with each new experience, with each test or trial, and each time you inspire others to see something beyond our current circumstances.
For many, leaving a legacy is associated with the end rather than the beginning of one’s life. I would submit to you today that thinking about the end instead of the beginning is a little like closing the barn door after the horses have run out of the barn. It is a little too late for that.
Your leadership is not shaped and your legacy is not defined at the end of the road but rather by the moments shared along the way, the decisions made, the actions taken, and even the mistakes that you have overcome throughout the many phases of your life.
So, what is a Spiritual Legacy?
A spiritual legacy is a legacy of faith. Like most men, you probably want to impact your world with your life. You want to be known for something. You want to invent something, you want to write a great novel, you want to be in the Hall of Fame of whatever your favorite sport happens to be
The reality is that you and I are impacting our world—even if we don’t realize it. It is somehow not how we envisioned it. Let’s take a brief look at how some historical figures impacted their world.
What comes to mind when you think of the following people?
– Mother Teresa
– Adolph Hitler
– Billy Graham
– President Nixon
These people impacted others during their lifetime and left an impression for years to come on those who hear their stories. Some good. Some bad. They created a legacy whether they intended to or not. And so are you. So why not choose to leave a legacy that counts for now and for eternity?
Your spiritual legacy is sort of like a relay baton that you begin to pass on to the next generation even while you are yet alive. Your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors can grab onto this baton and run with it now and keep running long after your portion of the race is finished.
I will just go ahead and come out and say it. A spiritual legacy is all about your relationship with the Lord—the stories of your past and your present walk with Jesus given as a journal to your children and grandchildren. These stories acknowledge the bad times, but they are also combined with the good that God creates in and through us. It is the “Jesus experiences” that we share and the memories we create that impact people’s lives for eternity.
Among other things, your legacy of faith consists of the stories and first hand observations of how you responded to life’s difficulties. It will be comprised of many of the following:
- How you worshipped
- How you celebrated
- How you grieved
- How you prayed
- How you made a difference in the lives of others
- How you conquered your bad attitudes and habits
- How you handled disappointments
- What you did with your finances
- How you talked about people when they were and were not around
- How you treated your family
- How you treated your friends
I think I can even boil it down to just three. I think that our legacy will be defined by how we did the following things:
How we prayed — What was your Spiritual health and commitment to the Lord? Were you known as a man of deep commitment to God? One of my most trusted advisors has cautioned me be careful here not to drift into the crowd that Jesus himself railed against — the Pharisees. They walked around telling everyone how holy they were. That is NOT what I mean here. My meaning here is simply this. Was it obvious to those around you that God had a profound impact on your life?
How we stayed — What was the health and status of your marriage? In other words, did you stay committed to the one you vowed before God, family and friends that you would honor until death parted you? Was it obvious to those around you that your marriage was central to who you were and that the marriage relationship was second only to your relationship with God?
How we played — What was the relationship with your children and the rest of the family? Did you value time with them as mush as you valued the job or the next promotion? What will your children remember about their childhood? Will they remember a father who had enough left in the tank at the end of the day to roll around on the floor and wrestle with a young son? Will your daughter remember that you were willing to have an after dinner tea party? Was it obvious to those around you that your family was more valuable to you than “stuff”?
Are you a legacy leader based upon what you have read so far? The bar seems a little high. And I guess it is. But don’t be discouraged. It is worth it to try to reach the bar. And Leadership Voices is here to help you build and live and leave the legacy that you are longing for.
Legacy leaders are constantly assessing and evaluating how they are doing. What questions do legacy men ask themselves? Well, here are just a few that I think legacy leaders should be asking on a regular basis:
- What will the record of my life journey look like?
- What are my stories of God in my journey?
- If those who follow me do not know my journey, how will they have a legacy to grab on to?
- How will they know what was treasure and what were toys in my life?
- Will they understand what was surface and what was substance in my experiences?
- How will they know the God who wants to walk their paths with them based upon the way that I am living my life?
What are the most important things about Jesus that you would like your family to learn from your life?
Although we can never go back and start again from the beginning and change how we started this journey, we can make a new and a fresh start today and begin to change the end. You can start today to create the legacy that will last for generations.
Watch next Friday for part 2 of this series that will deal with Building a Legacy.
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