Building a legacy involves many things. It involves a high degree of introspection. Legacy leaders are constantly asking themselves questions about their activities and interests. Here are just a few questions I want you to consider as we discuss building a legacy.
- If you knew with absolute certainty that you’d die exactly 24 hours from right now, what would you do?
- If you knew with absolute certainty that you’d die exactly 10 years from right now, what would you do?
- Would there be any difference in your activities or the energy in which you went about them?
- Who are the top five people that you’d want to invest your time in?
- Do you know what you would want to pass on to them after you’re gone?
Every day, without knowing it, we are passing on to those around us who we are, what we possess and what we learn. But are we really passing along the stuff that matters for now and for eternity?
Most of us desire to leave an inheritance of significant value to those around us. Although we don’t always know what that means, what it includes, or how to go about it. We are bombarded in the media to plan for how to pass down our wealth. And we have some authors who are a part of Leadership Voices who can help you with those issues. But when it comes to the intangibles – the kind of stuff money can’t buy – we hear crickets from the media and from pop culture. Pop culture is concerned about the here and the now. In contrast, Legacy Leaders are concerned about those that come behind us.
We tell ourselves that we have lot’s of time. We tell ourselves that it’s OK and we will figure it out later. But the truth is, the average person will fail to pass on what matters the most to the people they care about the most.
Lord, please don’t let that be said of me.
Who comes to your mind first when you think about those you would want to pass down a lasting legacy? Is it your family? Is it your friends? Maybe it’s your spiritual children, the people you disciple in your small group, or the people at your workplace or school. What if your children are grown? What legacy do you want to leave to your grandchildren?
Each of us will have a slightly different answer to this question. And, to be sure, my thoughts in today’s article are aimed squarely at husbands and fathers and grandfathers. Each of us has been given a sacred duty. If we are Followers of Jesus Christ then our duty is to enable and encourage our children to do the same. As a Christian, I have a duty to share the Good News of the Gospel with those that are closest to me. And that is my family. That is my spiritual legacy that I am building.
Many of you can quote at least one or maybe two for the following verses. Many of you committed verses 4 or 5 to memory as a young child. But let’s look at them in the context of most of the 6th chapter of Deuteronomy. I don’t usually include large portions of Scripture. So, I hope you will allow me to do so today given our topic.
These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you–a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant–then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. — Deuteronomy 6:1-12 NIV
Every young Jewish boy knew and committed these verses to memory to be sure. And by the time theta they became a young man, each boy could quote large portions of the Torah. He would learn them so that he could lead others in the worship service. He would lead by reading or chanting portions of the Scriptures.
Pause and think on that for just a moment. He learned so that he could lead.
Building a spiritual legacy requires us to learn so that we might lead. Building a spiritual legacy means that we live out our faith with transparency and pass down the character traits that God is refining in us.
What might this look like for you?
How are you going about impressing the Truth of the Bible onto your children? What do your conversations with your children center upon? When you are given golden opportunities in the car without major distractions, do you take advantage of them to have a real and meaningful conversation with your children? Or do you have them get in and put their headphones on and just let them zone out? What are some of the last words you share together before you lay their heads on their pillows each night?
When you are willing to share with them how you have responded to hardship by leaning on God’s infinite riches, you will be building a legacy. When you discuss your approach to work as a means to an end and not the end itself, you are building a legacy. When you demonstrate how to put God first as you manage money and make decisions, you are building a legacy. When you shower love and affection on your wife in front of your children, you are building a legacy. When you role around on the floor and be silly with them, you are building a legacy. When you bring them to church with you and don’t just send them to church, you are building a legacy. And the list goes on and on.
What is the status of your legacy today?
I hope that you are enjoying this series. This material and part of the next article were part of a single session at a recent men’s retreat. Fortunately, this venue offers a greater opportunity to build on those brief thoughts.
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