Thinking About Your Legacy?
Written By: Chris Mace
In a recent article titled “Your Legacy”, Richard Simmons III asked the question , “What do you want to be remembered for?” He said that “Once your earthly life is over, your reputation will become your legacy.” Then he quoted from author David Brooks book The Road to Character in which the author differentiates between “resume virtues” and “eulogy virtues”:
“Resume virtues are professional and oriented toward earthly success. They require comparison with others. Eulogy virtues are ethical and spiritual and require no comparison. Your eulogy virtues are what you really would want people to talk about at your funeral. As in, “He was kind and deeply spiritual,” and not, “He had a lot of frequent flier miles…
Although the article continues on to makes thoughtful points, resumes and eulogies are obviously about us. However, we are meant for something more grand, more eternal, than a nice goodbye speech which will soon be forgotten by most regardless of the amount of good deeds done, nice relationships held, and fine words said. We are meant to be messengers with a story to live and tell. The book of Proverbs wisely exhorts: “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” (Proverbs 22:6) That idea raises the question of ethics. What is the basis of our advice? The Apostle Paul encouraged “Fathers” to bring their children up “with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) So, according to Scripture, God and His principles for living are foundational to the development of ethical thought and behavior.
It is obvious that different cultures’ religious beliefs are important to preserving a specific culture. Scripture is replete with exhortations about the extremely important responsibility of Jews and Christians to teach succeeding generations about who God is and His love for humanity. Moses gave specific instructions that the Israelites teach, live, and continually talk with their children about God and His works and Laws (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
The psalmist testifies many times to this crucial generational responsibility and his strong commitment to it: “O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds/So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. (Psalm 71:17-19)
“I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done…He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments…” (Psalm 78:2-8)
The Christian community has just celebrated Easter and the confidence that forgiveness and eternal life are found through belief in Christ’s atoning death and triumphant resurrection. Every generation and every tongue deserve to hear that Gospel message and to know the awesomeness, the love, the power, the miracles, the majesty and splendor, and the greatness of God so they can “hope” in God and live rightly in His image.(Psalm 145:3-6)
Developing giftedness and talents, being people of integrity, working hard, fulfilling potential, and enjoying life are important for mental and emotional health and a sense of fulfillment, but all accomplishments, wealth, and fun will one day mean nothing. In contrast, a relationship with God will mean everything. That hope filled message has to be told in order to be known. Otherwise, no generation will know the good news of God and His redemptive acts or understand Christ’s saving sacrifice on the cross for them. Everyone deserves to hear the Gospel, to see authentic faith lived out, and to have an opportunity to respond.
The prophet Isaiah proclaimed and the Apostle Paul echoed the beauty of this generational process: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation… ” (Isaiah 52:7) (Romans 10: 14-15) Some of those “beautiful feet” belong to parents, grandparents, family members, teachers , mentors, and churches who have a tremendous and increasingly difficult responsibility to speak and live Christ’s Good News in an expanding humanistic society. Their lasting legacy will spring from a life of devotion and will undoubtedly be noted in eulogies written on the hearts and spoken by the lips of those who love and respect them, but, more importantly, by those who will have found faith.
Those are convicting thoughts for me. How about you? How are we doing?