Have you ever stopped to observe the “stuff of life” moments playing out around you? The satisfied gaze of grandparents as they watch their family gathered together. The squealing moment in the airport when long-distance friends spot each other. The quiet joy of a coach after a hard-fought victory. All around us, there are priceless examples of people who have poured their time, skills, love, and commitment to others in order to build a legacy.
Legacies are sometimes nefarious: the legacy of racism in the United States, or anti-Semitism in Germany. A legacy of sexual abuse or infidelity that wounds a family. As individuals and societies, we make decisions that echo in eternity.
Legacy is a lofty-sounding word, but it’s actually as steady and organic as breathing. Our legacy is created through everyday choices that echo whom and what we value. It’s a long-term impression for others to read from our lives. We tend to think about legacy in terms monetary inheritance; this is an accurate definition, but it falls short of the eternal implications of legacy found in Proverbs.
Proverbs especially focuses on children in order to paint a picture of legacy training. Proverbs 19:18 says that applying discipline is a form of hope for a child’s future—the effort to correct and guide now will bear fruit later. When a child finds his or her path as a result of that good training, he or she will stick to it (Proverbs 22:6). These passages harmonize with God’s command to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 11:19: “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” The ultimate training for children is to teach them the wisdom of knowing and fearing (being in awe of and surrendered to) God (Proverbs 14:26).
Because the foundation of building a legacy of wisdom begins with fear of the Lord, legacy-building is something everyone can do. It’s not only for people with children; it is for people who are breathing. It’s so important for us to remember that the family of God is wider than the nuclear family. Children can learn about the Lord from friends, aunts, uncles, and mentors. Spiritual children need more mature believers to disciple them. We need each other. Our model and cornerstone is Jesus Christ, who was single and childless, and whose legacy is unrivaled.
As believers, our participation in legacy-building is directly related to the Great Commission. When Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18–20), He was entrusting us, His followers, to uphold and perpetuate a godly legacy.
What would you like to pass down to the next generation? How are you supporting and encouraging those who are new to the faith? Pray for your loved ones—text them to ask for prayer requests. Read and discuss Bible stories with your children, god-children, nieces, nephews, or the children at church. Sign up to mentor.
You don’t have to be intimidated by the prospect of building a legacy; just harness the moments you have in each day and dedicate them to God. He will make them fruitful.