Most of us never deliberately attempt to learn much about the full scope and scale of our influence. Our legacy is something we think of only at the end of our tenure at a firm, or when we're on the cusp of retirement. But what would it look like if we began to think about the legacy we want to leave early in our lives.
Such thinking forces us to ask important questions: What is most important to me? What do I want my children to emulate about me? What contribution do I want to make that will last well beyond my death? How do I need to live today so that tomorrow’s future will be better for my neighbor?
What's more, when we do look back, we often measure success in terms of how I helped increase market share, or what size house I lived in, or the car that I drove. Legacy thinking causes us to grasp things that transcend the physical world, but which have a deep impact on it. What investment am I going to make in my children, in my community, in the social systems that keep people in poverty or homeless or abused?
Legacy thinking forces the connection with the decisions that are before you daily right now, and the behaviors you engage in today, tomorrow, and next week.
Elton Trueblood (not John) once wrote about the meaning of life: “People have made at least a start at understanding the meaning of life when they plant shade trees under which they know full well they will never sit.” When you think about what lasting impression you will make in the world and the worlds of those who are close to you in your life, then you act today in ways that you know will benefit generations in the future. The Apostle Paul hints at this when he says in 1 Corinthians 3, “I planted the seed, and Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” (the God part helps us keep an appropriate humility).
Everyone’s life tells a story and it’s that story that will go on for generations to come. It's a story that you write yourself. Every paragraph is penned by your own hand. What does your story say about you?
When we think about our financial stewardship – stewarding the financial resources that God entrusts to us – thinking in terms of the legacy you want to leave can enable you to see more clearly the priorities that must be set for today. Remember that your legacy as a Christ follower is not about how much money you had or what you owned, these things will fade away in time. It's about the impact you make in Jesus’ name on the lives of others (whether positive or negative).
I’ll leave you with something I read recently, "You can't do anything about the length of your life but you can do something about its width and depth"