We learn from the past, live in the present, and build for the future. While legacy considerations commonly invoke thoughts of death, legacy is all about what we do while we are alive, the choices we make during the time represented by the dash between our date of birth and our date of death.
What is Our Legacy?
Every human life is lived somewhere on the selfish-selfless spectrum; we all spend different parts of our lives at different points of this continuum. Are we focused on living lives we are proud of, keeping our hearts fixed on the light? How do we invest our time and talents? Let’s spend a few moments and honestly reflect on how we’ve lived, how we’re living, and how we aspire to live for the rest of our lives. Practically speaking, we ALL possess so much that is worth passing on to the next generations; whatever is not worth passing on dies along with our mortal bodies.
Proactive, Purposeful, & Intentional Legacy Planning
If we aren’t intentionally creating a legacy consistent with our beliefs, we are missing out on imparting our greatest good to the world. Passing on a legacy is not a one-time event, it is created by the thoughts we have every day, the spirit we infuse into the lives of those who hear us speak, the culmination of the habits we commit to each month, the character we continue to build each year; it is our own individual destiny. Legacy is not only about the outcome, but the progression of our lives, right up until the final curtain call. Each soul is responsible for our own progression—and our own outcome. Shouldn’t we proactively, purposefully, and intentionally plan how we live our lives?
Rather than being a product of our environment, every moment of every day affords every father the luxury of creating a future of promise for ourselves and our children. Let’s proactively, purposefully, and intentionally choose our footsteps. For better or worse, children are likely to imitate lifelong attitudes and plans that resemble those of their parents. Let’s live our lives in ways that perpetuate the legacy we want to leave behind for our children and grandchildren.
Hope & Wisdom
We live in the present, aware that the future is uncertain. Our feelings are driven by our beliefs about the future and the confidence of these expectations. Hope gives the future the flavor of optimism. As with any passive process—hope is not a strategy. Hope, combined with wisdom, recognizes what is and allows us to create positive realities. While hope does not extinguish suffering, it helps us endure. While wisdom doesn’t actively solve problems, it bestows us with guidance. Our hopes dictate the beliefs that propel our actions. Wisdom, hopefully, equips us to take the right actions. Hope and wisdom are fundamental resources for the creation of a meaningful, worthwhile, and impactful legacy. By allowing hope and wisdom to guide our beliefs and actions, our legacy is our choice.
The Impact of Fatherhood
Legacy is a human partnership between the dead, the living, and those who are yet to be born. We are all part of a larger community, one that must know its history to build its future. Today’s generation of children have a greater number of choices than generations before them. Especially as children get older, more of these choices can have serious implications and long-lasting consequences. The timeless bond of fatherhood grants a loving father the privilege of holding great influence over his child’s future. While children learn much through direct instruction, the most impactful lessons are internalized through observation and reinforced though imitation.
Our Life Right Now
If we died today, what would be our legacy? Consider the eulogy exercise below that provides a framework for designing our own life map. The writing process can help us derive strength and purpose as we precisely articulate who we are, who we want to be, and discover what we must do to get there.
The Eulogy Exercise
- Step 1: Write the eulogy of the life we have already lived.
- Step 2: Write the eulogy of the life we would have loved to live, the one that fulfills all our goals and dreams.
- Step 3: Compare the two eulogies and write a third essay about which inspires us more, and why.
Reflect on these questions:
- What do we want our life to be?
- How do we want to be remembered by our friends and family?
- How do we want to be remembered by people other than our friends and family?
- What kind of an impact do we want to have on our community?
- How is the world a better place because we were in it?
Once we identify the legacy that we desire for ourselves, we can build our lives with greater intentionality. This exercise should help us start doing more of what matters and encourage us to make better use of our time and resources, now. With this increased clarity, we are better equipped to live more fulfilling lives of meaning and purpose.
Think of skipping rocks down at the lake. Imagine that the ripples on the water are a representation of our life. Every time the stone hits the water, it affects the area around it. In our lives, at the center of each circle, is a choice we make. American pastor, Bill Graham, said “The greatest legacy one can pass to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”
“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” —2 Timothy 2:2 KJV
The Top Five Regrets of the Dying reviews how we can positively address issues while we still have the time, giving us hope for a better world. It is a courageous, life-changing book that will leave you feeling more compassionate and inspired to live the life you are truly here to live.
An inspiring tale that provides a step-by-step approach to living with greater courage, balance, abundance and joy—the extraordinary story of Julian Mantle, a lawyer forced to confront the spiritual crisis of his life, and the subsequent wisdom that he gains on a life-changing odyssey that enables him to create a life of passion, purpose and peace.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Fathers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.