Leaving A Legacy
As the golden years approach, many people give much thought to what they will leave behind for their families when they are no longer here. Sometimes monetary investments are made to leave an inheritance "for" the children. However, more important is the legacy they can leave "in" their children.
Deuteronomy is the message Moses gave to Israel before he died, and before they took possession of Canaan. He's 120 years old, and knows he is at the end of his life. The books begins with Moses reviewing the laws that he had given the nation of Israel 40 years earlier. In chapter 6, he tells the adults how to leave a legacy of FAITH in the hearts and minds of the next generation:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
KEYS TO THE LEGACY:
Using these five keys to encourage and teach about your faith is the greatest legacy you can possibly leave, one that will long be remembered and have an impact on future generations forever.
- It doesn't matter what you know, if you don't know what really matters.
Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.
Some people would say that it is narrow-minded to be a Christian. However, it's a focus that is necessary in life. Having God as our focus helps guide and direct us as we journey through life.
What if kids grow up right and are successful according to every yardstick this culture puts up against their life? What if they have the right education, the right job, the right car, and live in the right neighborhood, hang out with the right friends, and even demonstrate the right values? If they are wrong about who God is, then it really doesn't matter what they are right about.
- You should always focus on the relationship more than the rules.
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
The classic mistake is to pass down the rules without passing down the relationship. You take the relationship away from the rules, and the result is almost always rebellion. Keeping the rules is just a by-product of a trusting relationship. Moses warns the adult generation that there would come a day when their children would question the rules. His answer is to point them to the goodness of a God who loves them. Rules can only be properly accepted in the context of a loving relationship. Nothing in the child's performance should ever determine the relationship of love.
- It has to be in you before it can ever be in them.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.
Issues of the heart like faith, values, and priorities, are learned in a unique way. They are best learned through relationships. They are "caught" more than they are "taught". Some things can only be transferred from one heart to another heart. This is the way the heart learns--- it is a universal principle. It doesn't matter if you're talking about mentoring, coaching, parenting, or discipling; you can't give away what you don't have yourself.
- There is no substitute for the QUANTITY of quality time.
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Everything in our culture tends to compete with establishing a routine relationship with anyone. Yet, your potential to leave a legacy is directly connected to your consistency in relationships. Making a relationship a priority takes time and effort. It involves both significant moments and spiritual growth. However, these are very unpredictable and hard to notice qualities.
Consider this illustration: Having a membership at the YMCA doesn't make the difference in your physical health. Even showing up and taking a look around doesn't do anything. You must work out while you're there to experience any benefits. In the same way, just being a parent doesn't necessarily build a relationship. It takes time and effort.
- What's worth remembering needs recycling.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
There are several concepts to recycle as we leave a legacy of faith. While making relationships a priority and spending quality time with family, remember to impress upon them the following checkpoints:
- Make your relationship with God and scripture an important part of your daily schedule.
- Learn to trust and depend on God.
- Establish limits on personal desires for the sake of your future potential.
- Understand how to make decisions which are based on God's perspective.
- Develop relationships which will encourage a positive life-style and spiritual growth.
- Establish a personal vision to make a difference in the lives of others.
- Choose to respect and follow the leaders Gods has put in your life.
From Christian Matters; September 2002