Through the years, many people influence our lives. Although some of them are no longer with us, their legacy lives on. We may not realize it, but the way we live our lives leaves an impression on those around us and can impact how they live.
The word legacy means “anything handed down from . . . an ancestor.”1 In other words, it’s something passed from one generation to the next. It’s a lasting impression. This can include our traits, habits, and talents, as well as our social, mental, spiritual, and emotional attitudes.
Everything we are and everything we possess—whether good or bad—is part of the legacy we leave. This should cause us to pause a moment and ask, “How will others remember me?” Will we be known for our intelligence and education? Will people remember us for the way we dressed? Or will we be known for our faith in God?
Every day, we are writing our legacy. And our loved ones will be left with the lasting impressions we make on them. Often, those impressions will shape the way they live.
When people know and confess who they are in christ and take advantage of that fact, they cannot fail in their christian life.
We can all think of people who have left us a legacy. My mother’s mother, Granny King, comes to my mind. She didn’t have a lot of money to spend on her grandchildren, but she always spent time with us. I have fond memories of her and Paw-paw taking us to the zoo. We had so much fun with them.
Granny King left a legacy that helped me understand the importance of making memories with my children and grandchildren. When Ken and I were raising Craig and Denise, we were very busy in the ministry. But we realized how important it was to spend time and have fun with our children. Now that we have grandchildren, we do the same with them.
Another person who impacted my life was Mrs. Fletcher, my first-grade teacher. Now, it’s important for you to know that Mrs. Fletcher was the third first-grade teacher I had that year. It had been a traumatic experience for me to leave my mother and go to school in the first place. So you can imagine how I felt when I had to attend three different schools in one year.
When I started going to her class, I was a little insecure. But she took an interest in me and would pat me on the shoulder and say, “It’s going to be okay, honey.”
Mrs. Fletcher left a lasting impression on me. She passed down a legacy that I still practice today. I love to make people feel secure. If I am at a function and see someone who looks uncomfortable with strangers, I’ll connect them with someone who will talk with them and make them feel comfortable.
I’ve often talked about my dear Aunt Oma. She taught me the importance of the Word of God and prayer. Aunt Oma always got her prayers answered, and I learned from her how to persevere in prayer. We also spent hours together as she helped me memorize verses of scripture.
I will always be grateful to Aunt Oma for teaching me the importance of the Word of God. Many of the scriptures I learned as a child have kept me during the times in my life when I didn’t know what to do. Aunt Oma helped establish a foundation of God’s Word in my heart. As a result, I always knew that God was there for me any time I needed Him.
Then there is my precious mother. She taught me by example how to take my place beside my husband and be a co-laborer with him. She taught me how to complement Ken and not compete with him. Her lifestyle showed me how to be a helpmate to my husband.
My mother taught me the need to always set a beautiful table—even when only my family was sitting down to eat! She taught me how to cook and many other things I needed to know as a wife. I will always be grateful for her legacy in my life.
This month we celebrate Mother’s Day. And like my mother, grandmother, and aunt, women around the world are leaving lasting impressions and shaping the lives of children. The most important legacy a mother can leave her children is to train them in the ways of God.
I’m so thankful for everyone who has influenced my life. Some of the people were relatives and some were not. But they all made a difference. I am determined to make a difference in the lives of other people. I want to leave a lasting impression that will lead others down the right path—a legacy they can follow to win their race in life!
1 David B. Guralnik, ed., Webster’s New World Dictionary, 2nd college ed. (Cleveland: William Collins & World Publishing, 1974), 806.
Faith in Action
Writing Our Personal History Book
The real measure of our success does not lie in our accomplishments, awards, and academic degrees. It is in the lives of those who have been changed because of our influence. Here are some things we need to pass on in our legacy:
- A life lived for God. We need to pass on our faith to our children so they in turn can pass it on to their children.
- A life of honor and respect for our elders. Many young people today don’t know much about honor, respect, or ethics. We must teach them by example.
- A life of character. Living out our integrity has a lasting effect on others. Our character is more important than our accomplishments.
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