If you could have lunch with one person who is no longer with us, who would it be? A famous theologian from centuries ago? Perhaps a world-renowned scientist or psychologist? Maybe a celebrity or humanitarian you admire who has passed from this earthly life?
Though I think it would be amazing to meet Andy Griffith (who feels like an uncle I never met), Abraham Lincoln, King David, or Esther, a not-so-famous (but important) person I would love to meet is… my husband’s mother.
Sabine Viets passed away almost exactly three years before I met her son in a psychology class at Liberty University. As I got to know him, his character and his personality, the more I wondered about this special lady who raised him. As our relationship progressed, my curiosity and sadness grew for having never gotten the chance to know her.
What would she tell me? What advice would she give? Which meals would she insist on teaching me to cook? Which stories would make me laugh until I cried? What wisdom would she impart?
Though I will never get the chance to meet her this side of Heaven, I see glimpses of her when I watch her son pour his heart and soul into his educational pursuits, find the energy to help people find the answers they need, and desire to live a godly life. Her body may no longer be here, but she lives on within Eric and his brother. She left a beautiful legacy.
Sometimes We Lose Sight of the End
As the saying goes, the days are long, but the years are short. The stress of the day-to-day takes our eyes off the end goal. In the morning, our thoughts turn to what the day holds. What expectations do we need to fulfill? Who is counting on us and what do we need to accomplish? How much productivity is enough to earn the right to finally fall back into bed tonight? However, what we need to remember (but often forget) is that most people form their legacy in the unexciting grind of life – not in one great action.
As a goofy four-year-old, God saw fit to place sweet Miss Betty in my life. First, she was my mom’s co-worker, then our neighbor, and eventually my most trusted mentor. She did not win any notable awards, cure any diseases, or make a huge splash in the world, but she left an awesome legacy of prayer, hospitality, and selflessness in a number of people. What I remember about Miss Betty is how she always seemed to have time for people. She rose early and prayed and then had time during the day to pour into those who came seeking wisdom and prayer.
There is not one specific moment which sums up Miss Betty’s life. She built her legacy on the random Tuesday afternoon visits with friends, the weekly Bible studies, the prayer times with her children and grandchildren, and the daily care of her home.
Building a Legacy Together
The person you marry will not only be your partner in life but your partner in legacy. He or she will be a part of what you leave behind for future generations. He or she will influence the mark you leave on this world. Admittedly, I did not think about that when I was young and dreaming of my Prince Charming. A soft touch, warm glance, and lifetime of happiness is what I wanted. However, marriage is so much more than that; and, if you and your spouse-to-be partner up to carry out a great mission, you can leave a more powerful legacy than either of you could bestow on your own.
What Legacy Do You Wish to Leave?
How do you answer the questions below? (Record these in the notebook you’re creating this year!)
- Who made the biggest impact on your life? What did he or she teach you? How did he or she teach you?
- In which areas of your life do you want to leave a legacy (e.g., work, church, family, community, politics, etc.)? List from most important to least important.
- How can you adjust your life to make sure you are pouring your greatest energy into your greatest priorities?
- What joint-legacy do you want to leave on the world with your spouse? Spend about ten minutes jotting down your thoughts and then discuss together.
- What traits in a potential spouse would you consider deal-breakers? (These are traits you would consider counterproductive to your mission and desired legacy. Spend some time thinking and praying about this answer. Take breaks and come back to your list. Include reasons for your answers so you can remind yourself later. ~smile~)
- What do I want included in my eulogy? Write a eulogy for yourself noting what you want to accomplish with your life and what you want others to remember about you.
I confess… sometimes, I watch mothers in church holding their children and I am jealous of the influence they get to have on those young lives. It makes me wonder, “Do I have anyone with whom to leave a legacy?” Then, I remember the people in my life like Miss Betty, my godmother, Becky, and my best friend’s mother, Mirgy, who are not related to me by blood but have still poured their wisdom and knowledge into my life.
You do not have to be a parent to leave a legacy.
You do not have to be a spouse to leave a legacy.
You do not have to be a church leader to leave a legacy.
You do not have to be famous to leave a legacy.
You do not have to be intelligent to leave a legacy.
You do not have to be a giant in your field to leave a legacy.
You do not have to be a Bible expert to leave a legacy.
You do not have to communicate perfectly to leave a legacy.
You do not have to have all the answers to leave a legacy.
To leave a positive legacy, one simply needs to be available, faithful, open, and generous.
Does God’s Word Speak about Leaving a Legacy?
It absolutely does. In obvious ways and subtle ways, the Bible tells us to leave a legacy.
My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11-12, ESV)
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ (Hebrews 12:5-6, ESV)
As a parent, it is not loving to withhold correction. In fact, holding your children accountable for their actions shows you do love them just as God loves us when He corrects us. When you do the difficult task of gently disciplining your children someday, remember you are building a legacy of love and godliness.
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous. (Proverbs 13:22, ESV)
There is nothing more precious to leave your children than godly footsteps in which to follow.
And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, ‘When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ (Joshua 4:20-22, ESV)
This is a wonderful chapter in Joshua which encourages us centuries later to build monuments – large or small – to show the generations to come what God has done.
We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. (Psalm 78:4, ESV)
You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:5-6, ESV)
God honors faithfulness to future generations. What a blessing!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5, ESV)
Remember, even if no earthly parent left you a positive legacy, God has an inheritance waiting for His children which cannot be lost. Are you a child of God?
Before choosing a spouse, it is wise to consider where you want to go in life, who you want to influence, and what legacy you wish you leave. Work through the above questions and then discuss them together. What legacy do you both hope to leave with your children? With your community? With the world? What price will you have to pay to leave such a legacy? What sacrifices will you need to make? Are you both prepared and wholeheartedly on board to make those sacrifices?
The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith. – Billy Graham
Are you and your significant other building a powerful legacy?