I attended the memorial service of a great man a few years ago. He was some one I greatly admired and influenced me deeply. You won’t find his name in history books or in Who’s Who but what made him great in my eyes was the legacy he left behind. As one after another people stood and spoke of the effect he had on their lives, I thought to myself, “I want to live that kind of life so that can be said of me when I’m gone…”
A legacy is something from the past; something that is handed down or remains from a previous generation or time.
How will I be remembered? What kind of a contribution will I make to the lives of those around me? What difference will I make? What would I like said about me at my eulogy?
The truth is I have a chance right now to build a positive legacy.
I once read: The impact of your life will be determined by your dash… The writer’s point was that when I die on my tombstone there’ll be the year I was born and the year I died separated by a dash (1950 – 20??). The dash was my life. What I did. How I lived. The lives I touched. The legacy I left behind. The more purposefully I engage in enriching the lives of others, the deeper and finer and more memorable my dash or legacy will be.
The writer also noted that too many of us are busy marking tasks off our “To Do” list, but few of us are creating a “To Be” list. He went on to say that the only way to create and carry out a meaningful “To Be” list is to also have a “Stop Doing” list. Aristotle said it best: “Excellence is not an art. It’s a habit.” Something we intentionally do…
With God’s help love can become a habit… so can faithfulness and servanthood and generosity. These habits touch the lives of others in deep and lasting ways; in ways that out-live us. They plant seeds of wholeness, well-being and perhaps even lay the foundation for greatness in their lives. They create your legacy.
None of us can honestly start out constructing our legacy. We are who we are and we do what we do and the people around us notice and bestow to us our legacy. Fact is the best legacies are unintentional by-products of a life lived well built on love.
I want it to matter that I lived. Not for personal gain but because when God gave me life, he intended for me to use it well – to be generous with it… to help and guide others… to heal and protect those in need… to build roads and bridges for others to use.
As followers of Jesus, we have a great opportunity to do just that for our spouses, our children, our grandchildren, friends, neighbors, co-workers, employees, and for our church family. With God’s help and some intentionality we can work on our “stop doing” and “to be” lists, forming good habits and developing the art of loving and serving the people around us so that when all is said and done our dash will be remembered for the contributions we made and the positive influence we had on their lives. How well we loved and served others and how much we cared and mirrored the love of Jesus will determine our legacy.
What kind of legacy do you want to create? As for me, I want to be remembered as being a faithful and loving husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, friend and neighbor. I want to be remember as a man who loved God and gave his life to serving his kingdom…
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it could one day be said that because of the sort of person you were and the way you lived your life, you had earned the trust and confidence of those you lived with, worked with, worshipped with, and directed their attention toward Christ?
To me this would be a life well lived and would create without a lot of fanfare, a legacy that out lasts our years here on earth. It would be a dash that would be remembered and treasured long after you and I are gone.
What are the things you would include on your “stop doing” list and “to be” list in order to leave a godly legacy for those you care about?