What legacy are you leaving? I don’t mean money, or property, or any kind of material possession or wealth. What I’m really asking is what memory of you are you planning to leave for the generations to come? This probably warrants further definition too.
If you have children and they are of an age where you can hold a good conversation or engage in rigorous debate, what do you see of yourself in them? What sort of attitude do they have? What’s their sense of humour like? How do they like to present themselves to other people? Introvert or extrovert? Strangely optimistic about the world or way too cynical?
I have three children, Niamh, Noah and Nathanael, and no, before you ask, we didn’t do the three N thing on purpose. We got to the Nathanael, and he was just, well, a Nathanael, the N connection really only struck a week or so later after we’d named him, honest guv!
My eldest, and only, daughter Niamh was having a debate with her younger brother. This debate was about who was the most like me.
Niamh insisted that she was the most like me. She said she looked the most like me (but obviously feminine and very beautiful), and she had the same sense of humour as me. In her mind, that makes me and her the closest. Noah fired back by saying he had my thirst for knowledge and learning. And although my youngest boy, Nathanael, wasn’t in the room, he got included in the debate, and it was decided that my creativity (particularly in writing) had rubbed off on him.
There is obviously a further debate to be had here, and that is one of nature versus nurture, but that’s a conversation for another day. What I’m trying to tease out in this post, is the question of how much of how we act, of what we say and the attitude that we carry affect our children? Or indeed anyone with whom we have close regular contact?
What legacy of attitude and heart are you leaving? We all will leave some kind of mark on the world when we depart this one for the next. What will you be remembered for and what shape will you have left that is being filled by those you leave behind?
Starting today, why not look at the attitudes of those closest to you, and think carefully where you have had an effect, be it positive or negative. If it’s positive keep on going, keep on being that example through your words and deeds. If it’s negative commit to changing and turning that around. It might not be a quick fix, children, once they’ve picked something up are very resistant to put it down. If you’re a parent or guardian, you have set the terms of how these little people should approach life. They’ve watched you handle the stresses and tribulations as they have come your way and how you have responded. If you’re a believer, go to God regularly and ask Him for wisdom and patience. Little by little, that frozen perception that some may have of you, will gradually melt away.
Your legacy is an eternal one. Put your worth into a broader context and let that motivate you to be a better you.
The first part of Proverbs 13 verse 22 sums this up well, “The benevolent man leaves an inheritance that endures to his children’s children…”
I’d like to think that I’m not off to a bad start with my little family. In thinking about it further, I actually consider it an honour that I find myself in the centre of a debate where my children want to recognise my legacy already.