What kind of legacy do you want to leave? How do you want to be remembered? When people speak of you, what would you like them to say?
And, I’m not just talking about after we are gone from this earth…we also leave legacies while we are still here on the earth. Legacies of how we handled a certain situation(s), legacies of how we lived our life during a particular time-period, etc. We are continually leaving legacies.
The legacies we leave while we are still around are able to be changed. We can seek to right our wrongs, learn from our mistakes, and make the necessary changes for moving forward. However, our ultimate legacy that is left once we’ve passed on cannot be changed. That legacy will be set, and the kind of legacy we leave once we are gone will be determined by how we spent our time here.
Reality is, everyone will leave a legacy of some kind. That is a truth we cannot escape. Those who watched us live our lives will remember us in some way, good or bad. The question is, what kind of legacies are we leaving now, and what will our ultimate legacy be once we are gone?
There are 3 main measurements that will determine the type of legacies we leave. 3 aspects of our lives that those around us watch the most. Our actions, reactions, and words.
What we choose to do. The things we stand for and fight for. How we choose to spend our time and energy…and even our money if it’s obvious. What we choose to believe in, because our actions are dictated by our beliefs since we will make choices based on what we believe is right or wrong. Where we go, who we choose hang out with, and even the type of things we choose to post on social media. All of those actions speak volumes about who we are. These actions are all things we choose to do, and those who see them will take our actions into account when they are forming what our legacy is in their mind.
When life hits us, how do we respond? In the midst of difficulty, what is our reaction? If someone says or does something to us that we don’t like, how do we react? Our reactions are often an indication of our heart. We can work to do things that look good in front of other people, but in moments when something happens that is hard or that we don’t like, we will often react before we have time to think through what will look best to the people around us. Our actions are an indication of what we choose to do, but our reactions are an indication of the condition of our heart at that moment. For example, if anger is in our heart, we will react with anger in that moment. And those who see our reactions will take them into account when they are forming what our legacy is in their mind.
Words are very important. We can hurt someone very deeply by our words, as well as encourage them in amazing ways. With our words we can guide someone in the right or wrong direction, give good or bad advice, lie or tell the truth, and either help or hurt another person. Words are important and carry a lot of weight. The saying, ‘actions speak louder than words’ is completely true, and we must remember that. It is for that reason that I put words third on this list. But that does not give us a pass on what we say…our words are very powerful and important, and those who hear our words will take them into account when they are forming what our legacy is in their mind.
Our chosen actions, our initial reactions, and the words we speak = our legacy.
But as I said earlier, the legacies we leave now while we are still around can be changed. If our words or actions have somehow tarnished our legacy, know that we can still work to right our wrongs and leave a better legacy. So…
If you have chosen an action that you know wasn’t the best decision, or was blatantly wrong, work on fixing it. Correct the mistakes you made, apologize to those you hurt or were somehow affected by our actions, and then change your choices moving forward to show that you were sincere in your acknowledgement of wrong doing. Prove you have changed by the actions you make moving forward…and you’ll be able to change your legacy in the mind of some (not all…because let’s be honest, some people won’t forgive or want to change their thinking…but do the best you can)
If you reacted in a way that was not the way you should have reacted, or in a way that caused pain in those who watched your reactions, then work on mending those relationships. Apologize to those who saw your wrong reaction, work on yourself to determine what led you to have that kind of reaction, and move forward with resolve to learn to not react that way. Work on your patience in difficult situations so that you learn to react properly. Realize that your reactions begin with your heart, so seek to have peace and humility rather than pride or anger in your heart. Prove you are working to change, and you’ll be able to change your legacy in the minds of some (again, not all, that will always be true to a degree…but don’t let that keep you from doing what you can)
If you said something that caused damage in any way, be it a lie or a hurtful statement or anything else that you should not have said, then find those that your words affected and say you are sorry. Learn to apologize and admit you were wrong. Begin to work to restore your relationships that were hurt by your words. Work on what you say and how you say it. Seek to speak less and listen more, and when you do speak to have your words be more uplifting than negative. Prove you are changing how you speak to others, and you’ll be able to change your legacy in the minds of some.
Perhaps you noticed a common concept in how to begin repairing your legacy. Apologize. Learning to admit our wrongs and say we are sorry goes SUCH A LONG WAY! Pride on the other hand will keep us from being willing to admit any wrong on our part, and can even lead us to try to defend what we have done rather than working to correct it. Apologizing takes humility…pride refuses humility.
Our actions, reactions, and words will be what determines the legacy we leave.
What is the legacy you want to leave?
…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves… But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:22, 25)
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:16-18)
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17)
…Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith… (1 Timothy 6:11-12)
*if you know of another verse/passage that could accompany this, please feel free to share.