It is an innate, God-given desire of every human being to be significant. We want to impact our world and those around us in important and positive ways. And we want that impact to be lasting, even to the point that it outlasts our earthly lives. This impact is often referred to as a legacy, and it’s what we leave behind for others.
Often legacies are thought of in the context of descendents, but it’s certainly not the only way to leave one. We leave a legacy in many ways, and it’s usually based on how we live our lives which serves as an example to others, and how we give of ourselves and our resources. It can be through giving financially; investing in others’ lives by relating or mentoring; communicating ideas and insights through writing, speaking, and teaching; and in many other ways that are unique to each person according to the gifting and purpose God has given to each one.
In order to leave a legacy that is positive and life-giving, we need to start now, and hopefully already have! Each one of us impacts others in many different ways, and we do it every single day of our lives, whether we realize it or not. It’s easy to focus only on the “big” things people do that leave an impact, like making a large donation, pastoring a mega church, or becoming a best-selling author. But the “little” things we do can be just as – if not more –significant.
My mother was a teacher, both as a vocation and a lifestyle. She loved helping others learn and influencing lives. Sometimes it was discouraging to her, depending on the attitude of the student, but as a whole teaching gave her great fulfillment.
The most rewarding part of her years of teaching school came years and years after the fact, when she received letters of gratitude from former students, or happened to see them here and there and heard their words of appreciation for the impact she’d made on their lives.
One that stands out to me was a former student who had become a doctor. Around thirty years after he had been my mother’s student, he wrote her a letter, thanking her for assigning him and his classmates a long poem to memorize. He had thought he wasn’t capable of accomplishing such a feat, but she was unrelenting and insisted he could. And he did. It was a turning point for him in realizing that if he set his mind to do something, he could accomplish things he formerly thought he couldn’t. This mindset served him well as he pursued medical training and became a doctor, playing his own significant role in others’ lives and leaving his own legacy.
Do you see how one “small” but significant interaction of one person with another had a significant impact, and will continue to as it is passed from one person to another, multiplied many times over?
“I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth,” penned the Apostle John, a childless single man. He was referring to the spiritual “children” he had “fathered,” and finding joy in the impact he’d had on their lives.
God’s blessings as you make an impact on the lives of those around you, creating a legacy that will long outlast your earthly life!
3 John 1:4 HCSB