You may feel abandoned, ignored, or simply taken for granted, but you have a legacy, a critical circle of influence – that can be fulfilled by no one else. Nothing beats family, we are told, and, indeed, they are your legacy. Society may never know, nor little care, who and what you are, but you can etch it in stone: your family will tell the tale!
As told in his book, Today Matters, and a book I highly recommend, John Maxwell tells the story of a study done by Richard Dugdale. As a member of the Prison Association of New York, Dugdale was surprised to discover six members of the same family, all in prison for a variety of offenses, including burglary, attempted rape, and assault with intent to kill.
The family, he discovered, could be traced back to a gentleman he called Max, born sometime between 1720 and 1740. A heavy drinker, he had six daughters and two sons, some of whom had been born out of wedlock. By the time of his study (in 1874), Dugdale estimated the family line included some 1,200 people.
Of the twelve hundred, and here Maxwell quotes Dugdale’s findings, 180 were paupers, 140 were criminals, 60 were habitual thieves, and 50 were common prostitutes.
Another study, this by A. E. Winship, was done on the family of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards. The onetime President of Princeton University, a traveling preacher and respected theologian, Edwards’ legacy encompassed some 1,400 individuals at the time of Winship’s study. Of these, Winship found 123 college presidents, 65 professors, 100 lawyers, 30 judges, 66 physicians, and 80 holders of public office.
In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
Our God, I have often said, is no man’s debtor. Honor Him, welcome His Son as the moving force in your life, and you will cast a shadow that will bless your family and all who have known you. Your legacy will not be found in your service to the community, the accolades you garner, nor the accomplishments of your brief sojourn on earth. Who you were and what you stood for will live on … in the lives of your family.
The principles you lived by, your conduct under pressure, the distinguishing marks of your character, and most important of all, your relationship with God, will cast a shadow on all who have known you. Indeed, as nothing else could, they will inevitably tell the story of your life.