I must admit I have a morbid fascination at the end of every calendar year. That’s the time when news sources publish the lists of famous people who have passed away during the last year. And each year I scan the list of names, letting each name evoke memories and emotions. Why do I do this?
At my core, I yearn to leave a legacy. Not in dollars, but in value being added to this world. As I look at the lives of these famous people, I’m reminded of a few things:
- Everyone’s days are numbered
- What we do consistently over time makes a bigger difference than a one-hit wonder
- Marks of greatness seldom come by accident: more often it’s intentional consistency that marks greatness
As I scan the yearly list of names, I experience a range of emotions. Some names invoke a chuckle, some names invoke the emotion of a personal memory as I’m escorted back to a time in my life when that person was most prominent.
Some names invoke awe or respect. There will never be another first man to walk on the moon like Neil Armstrong, nor a first woman in space like Sally Ride.
And if I’m not careful, my emotional experience can lead to a sense of hopelessness. So much greatness… so much goodness… gone from our world.
Surely the world is somehow less good without Andy Griffith and Mayberry.
Who will match the wisdom of a Stephen Covey, or the inspiration of a Zig Ziglar?
But each year, i combat the hopelessness by reflecting on what these people left behind… and by determining how I might leave something behind in my small corner of the world.
As I look at their lives, I see that some left an impression. They accomplished something great and memorable.
But some left a legacy, passing down valuable wisdom. Whether by teaching, coaching, writing, or actively mentoring, they poured themselves into others.
And that’s when it hits me: if people really invest in others… if they pass on valuable lessons, teach the importance of perseverance and character, and show others how to add value to this world…
Are they ever really gone?
I don’t know how you feel about investing in others, but I can tell you this: there are plenty of ways and opportunities to do so. It can be your time, your money, or your talents.
It can happen in those little moments of life… the conversations between parents and kids on the way to practice. it can happen as part of a bigger (and more formal) endeavor like Scouting, Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brother/Sister, or a formal mentoring program through work.
But it won’t happen without these two things:
As we remember famous people who have gone on, consider this:
- Some left an impression
- Some left a legacy that lives on in others
But only One left a teacher… a counselor… a comforter.
“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:26–27 NLT)
However you decide to invest this year, consider first investing in your relationship with Christ so that you can help others invest in Him as well.
There’s no end to the teaching and support that come from having The Holy Spirit in our lives… and there’s no end to the peace that follows. It’s the one thing this world can’t give.
And I… for one… can’t think of a better legacy to leave behind.
Where will you intentionally invest your time in 2013? What legacy do you want to leave?