The Importance of Leaving a Legacy
Our lives impact all those who follow us The principles we live by are the basis for the kind of legacy we will leave behind. We will also begin our how-tos by looking at how to leave a relational legacy. All of life is based on relationships, and we choose what direction those relationships go. We can live our lives in such a way that when we are gone, people are impacted by the relational legacy we left behind.
The core of who we are as individuals is spiritual. We were created with the intention of relating to God through our spiritual life. One of the greatest gifts we can leave behind is a spiritual example and legacy. We will also talk about how to leave a life legacy that impacts people. There are those who live on this earth and then just disappear, leaving little more than a trace. And then there are others who, through their legacy, live on in others for years to come.
The United States’ founding fathers, who had a dream of a place of self-determination.
Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who saw us through the Great Depression.
The many men and women who defended our liberties through the wars of the 20th century so that we can live in freedom.
John F. Kennedy, who called us to explore space and set us on course to have a man walk on the moon.
Martin Luther King Jr., who left us a legacy to pursue the dream of racial equality.
There are literally thousands of men and women who lived in a way that affects our lives today.
And, yes, the list goes on from there as well. These are the people we knew, the people we lived with and who shaped us deeply, for better and for worse in some cases.
You see, a legacy can be anywhere on the continuum, from very bad to very good—it all depends on how we live our lives.
How we live our lives is critically important. This month, I want to challenge you to take a look at how you live. Challenge you to think deeply about the major areas of your life where you can and should leave a lasting legacy.
. The legacy we leave is part of the ongoing foundation of life. Those who came before leave us the world we live in. Those who come after will have only what we leave them. We are stewards of this world, and we have a calling on our lives to leave it better than how we found it, even if it seems like only a small part.
2. Legacies have raw power for good and for bad. There are people who have changed the world for good, people who have opened up new worlds for millions of others, people who have spurred others on to new heights. And, conversely, there are people who have caused massive destruction for countless millions, people who left a wake of pain behind them wherever they went. There are parents who have blessed their children with greatness and parents who have ruined their children’s fragile minds and hearts. What we do affects others. Our lives have the power to create good or purvey evil. It is important that we choose to do good.
3. It is an act of responsibility to leave a legacy. Because of the power of our lives and the legacies we leave, it is a great responsibility to choose to leave a positive legacy. All good men and women must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine. I truly believe that part of what makes us good and honorable people is having a foundational part of our lives based on the goal of leaving a legacy.
4. Purposefully leaving a legacy for others breaks the downward pull of selfishness that can be inherent in us all. When we strive to leave a legacy, we are acting with a selflessness that can only be good for us. Yes, I suppose someone could work hard to earn money so that when he or she dies a building is named after them, but that is not the kind of legacy we are talking about. We are talking about legacies that make life better for those who come after us, not about our own fame or recognition, but about helping others. After all, we won’t be around to watch our legacy. To build that which will last beyond us is selfless, and living with that in mind breaks the power of selfishness that tries so desperately to engrain itself in our lives.
5. It also keeps us focused on the big picture. Legacy building is part of the “big picture.” It keeps us focused on the long term and gives us values that we can judge our actions by. When we are acting based on selfishness, personal expediency and the like, we are focusing on the “small picture”—whatever is pragmatic right now. When we are building a life that will give for many years, we are thinking “big picture.” Ask yourself: How does this action affect my overall goals? How will this affect people in the years to come?