This past weekend, we celebrated Grandparents Day… admittedly, one of the “newer” holidays, only recognized since the late 1970s. However, it DID make me think about the whole idea of the legacy my grandparents left me! My Mama, Nana and Granny made SURE we learned good manners, proper respect and how to represent our family honorably. However, the men in my family were equally up to the task of teaching me how to change a tire, work with tools, hunt and fish, stand up for myself and – most importantly – empower me to pursue any and ALL of my passions!
And these legacies have served me well through the decades – despite the occasional “lapses.” However, a true legacy involves so much more than skills and principles. Sure, money and other “inheritances” definitely come into the picture. But, it goes even deeper! A lasting legacy means passing down values, beliefs and a moral compass.
THOSE lessons – always demonstrate courtesy and kindness toward others… live by “The Golden Rule”… find the joy in giving freely… love without judgment – those are the “legacies” with the most staying power and the ones I’ve passed on to MY child. Let’s face it, unless you’re a Getty or Rockefeller, money is fleeting and how badly do you REALLY want Grandma’s wedding china?! The things we TEACH our children resonate further and longer than any “material” inheritance.
Fortunately, I received a rich and diverse spiritual upbringing… anchored in an unshakable belief in the power and majesty of our Divine Father. And my family was on to something! They KNEW they were passing me an eternal legacy: “Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity, And his descendants will inherit the land. The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant.…” (Psalms 25:12-14)
Sure beats a stock portfolio! So, let me ask you today: What sort of legacy are YOU leaving? We all know the names of those who made a tangible change – or changes – in our world. Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Warren Buffet, Andrew Carnegie… and a recent name in the news, thanks to his Hurricane Harvey efforts, Houston Texans football player J.J. Watt. Notice, the FIRST name on the list had NO money, was NOT in some high-level cushy job, certainly DIDN’T have the benefits of an Ivy League education or run in elite social circles. Yet, her impact? LIFE-CHANGING!
It’s Not About QUANTITY, But QUALITY!
See, it’s not about how MUCH you have to give, it’s about how much you’re WILLING to give. And, in my family, we knew the importance of giving. Even during the “lean” times, I saw my mother with her ledger and checkbook reviewing bills with my father, picking and choosing who got paid immediately or who had to wait. And our tithe NEVER got moved into that “second pile!”
Whenever a family member passed, we designated a charitable fund for memorial contributions instead of opulent displays of flower arrangements at their service or home. A new neighbor moves in? We were there with a home-cooked dish or meal. If someone needed a ride to a medical appointment or the hospital, my mother immediately volunteered. No hesitation. No excuses. If someone – anyone – needed something WE could provide, without any discussion my family SHOWED me the true meaning of “charity!”
Add in those early Bible verses learned as a child, and I had absolutely NO doubt about the “right” thing to do! “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (II Corinthians 9:7) Pretty clear… even for a child.
What Is YOUR Family Legacy?
So, while I have my grandmother’s (now, politically-incorrect) fur coat and my grandfather’s love of exploration, those are NOT the “legacies” holding the most meaning for me. Take a look at your life. What legacy did YOUR grandparents pass on to you? And now, the big question, what legacy will your family value most from YOU? Are you leaving a “charitable” legacy or a “me-first” birthright?
And although none of my grandparents will ever be found in a history book or be the subject of a TED Talk or grand memorial, the very fact I’m writing about them SO many years later makes them “legendary” in MY book! So take a few minutes today to assess your personal legacy – even discuss it with your family. And you can even take the discussion online, in our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube communities. Regardless of your personal circumstances, family history or background, TODAY you can begin that path to a LEGENDARY legacy!