You’ve built your life, your house, and your business or career. What about building your legacy?
Proverbs says that we are to leave an inheritance for our children’s children. Did you notice something strange? It doesn’t say to leave an inheritance for our children, but rather to their children. I don’t think that precludes inheritances for our children, but rather it extends the concept to the next generation. In other words, it speaks to the concept of legacy.
A simple definition of legacy would be “money or property left to someone in a will.” But your legacy should go far beyond that. A better definition would be “anything handed down from the past.”
Empires leave legacies. The Roman Empire left a legacy of technological advancements and engineering that continues to shape civilization today. Nations leave legacies. The Founding Fathers of the United States left a legacy of liberty and freedom to all who followed them. Businesses leave legacies. Chick-Fil-A has treated their young employees with respect and trained them in good business principles for 50 years. Their legacy is thousands of kids who have gone on to successful careers.
And of course, people leave legacies. You’ll notice that none of the legacies mentioned above involved money or property. They can certainly be part of the legacy you leave. But far more important is the moral legacy you instill in your children and grandchildren.
Teaching them love, kindness, patience, and respect for others is legacy. Helping them understand how important it is to keep your word, to work hard, and to be responsible is a legacy. Training them to be a good friend, to respect confidences, and to help those who can’t help themselves is a legacy. In short, character is the most important legacy you can pass on to your heirs.
You can also pass on skills to your progeny. Are you good with your hands? Have you developed great recipes? Have you been blessed with talent in the arts? Are you good at sports or writing? Some older people I talk with say, “The kids these days aren’t interested in what I can teach them.” You might be surprised. My daughter refers to my youth as “the olden days.” But she appreciates it when I take time to teach her life skills.
When your children and grandchildren tell their children and grandchildren about you, what would you like them to say? “He (or she) built a great business, managed money well, and left me an inheritance that allowed me to buy the house we live in.” There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Those are all admirable things. But wouldn’t you also want them to say “She (or he) was the most honest, kind, and giving person I ever knew. I always knew that if I needed someone to talk to, they would give me wise counsel.”
Work hard, save well, invest wisely, and leave a physical inheritance for your descendants. But remember that the moral legacy you leave will be remembered long after the money has been spent. That kind of legacy endures for generations.
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