September 14, 2016
“Legacy” by simple definition is “something handed down or left behind.” It can be property, influence or a memory. Its value is often in the eyes of the recipient. What one person considers a legacy, another might see as having little or no value. Most humans possess something from a parent, grandparent or other influential person that is a special memory of that individual.
With so much emphasis on what is valued after an individual has completed their life on Planet Earth, it is easy to overlook the reality that the legacy we leave behind is being built today. We do not die and leave our legacy; we live our legacy day by day and hope that when we die, the influence will continue. We are living our legacy today.
It is important to listen to teens and young adults as they reflect on their early years in school. Most interesting is what they recall about teachers and coaches. Usually there is a specific incident – positive or negative – that has lodged in their memory. There is emotion in their expression as they recall in detail what took place and how it affects them now.
I doubt that those persons of influence gave much thought to the fact that they were leaving a legacy. They were just doing what was expected. And I wonder if they would have said or done anything differently if they had conscientiously focused on “legacy living.” Extra emphasis on affirmation, or a more thoughtful and positive response to inappropriate behavior, might have been more evident had they thought about that child’s future memories.
I suppose everyone wants to be remembered in positive ways and most of us hope that people will forget some of the less fortunate things we have said or done. And while it is appropriate to hand off something tangible to be cherished by someone we have had the privilege of mentoring, the best legacy is the character influence they eventually make a part of their own legacy. The way we live today does make a difference – we are living our legacy.
Pastor Bill Ehmann