Our nation has lost a couple high-profile, important people recently. Just a few weeks ago, Billy Graham, probably the most respected and honored spiritual leader of our generation said farewell to this world. Last week, Barbara Bush quietly passed from this temporary life to her eternal home. Covered in the prayers of a nation, both slipped from the grip of deeply-devoted, faithful families into the arms of their Savior. This world was not their home, yet as they traveled the journey of this life, they both impacted this world for good. They both left a legacy. Intentionally, for the most part, but also through simple, day-to-day actions, their lives produced a lasting legacy that will affect generations to come.
My social media sites, as well as yours I’m sure, have been flooded with tributes to this powerful matriarch of the Bush family, as well as for “America’s Pastor,” Billy Graham. Prayers and condolences have flooded the internet as many people, Americans and internationals, have expressed their deep sorrow to these families in their passing. Their impact has left its deep mark on our country, and many nations throughout the world. Legacy.
Miriam-Webster defines Legacy as, “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.” Many times we think of the word legacy as a financial gift handed down to family, an organization, or someone who has served an important role in our lives. And while this is certainly an important facet of what a legacy is, I think it is only a small part of the deeper significance of a lasting legacy. You see, money, gifts, and material possessions will someday fade. They will be gone, with nothing left to show for the hard work except for a nice plaque on a wall somewhere. The only lasting legacy we can leave are the things we can’t buy at a store or online.
When I think of legacy, I tend to think more of the values, the character traits, and those things that have eternal value. I think of how my life, and the way I choose to live it, will impact the next generation. I have often reflected on a thought out of Quiet Strength, a book written by Tony Dungy several years ago on this very subject. While his life at one time was lived out on the football field as a coach, he knew there was more. Look at what Tony said about leaving a legacy:
“That’s what this is all about. Touching lives. Building a legacy – not necessarily on the field but in those places that most people never see. Trying to be faithful in the position God has given me. I love coaching football, and winning a Super Bowl was a goal I’ve had for a long time. But it has never been my purpose in life.
My purpose in life is simply to glorify God. We have to be careful that we don’t let the pursuit of life’s goals, no matter how important they seem, cause us to lose sight of our purpose.
I coach football. But the good I can do to glorify God along the way is my real purpose. I want to help people see the path to eternal life through Christ, to enjoy and abundant life now, and to fulfill their God-given purposes here.
We are all role models to someone in this world, and we can all have an impact – for good.”
–Tony Dungy, Quiet Strength
Whether you want to believe it or not, you are creating a legacy by the way you live your life. It is either a positive one, or one that many will choose to soon forget after you are gone from this world. That sounds harsh, but it is the truth. The choices we make, the relationships in which we intentionally choose to invest, and the time we spend at work, home and play, will reflect our priorities in this life and will show the next generation what this one views as important.
So, let me pose the question: what kind of legacy are you creating today? What are you intentionally doing that will outlast the brevity of this life you are living now? It’s not an easy question, but it’s one that needs to be asked. And if it causes you to uncover areas where you need to improve, just know this: by God’s grace, and because He gives second chances, you can start creating that legacy today. Go ahead, start building, keep shining!
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” -Matthew 5:15-16
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