■ By Susan Beckett / Contributed
Imagine having a tunnel named for you like the Harry Crabb Tunnel in Roseville, California, or maybe a mountain like Pikes Peak, which was named after explorer Zebulon Pike, who was actually unable to reach the summit. Or what if you had lent your name to “bloomers,” like feminist Amelia Bloomer. We get the word “nicotine” from a French ambassador to Portugal, Jean Nicol, who promoted the use of tobacco for medical purposes, and E.G. Booz is best remembered for being a man who sold whiskey in log cabin shaped bottles — thus the word “booze” was born!
So what do all these people have in common? Well, for one thing, they all have a legacy, like it or not! So many people work their entire lives trying to leave a legacy; a way to keep their names alive long after they’re long gone. Some put their names on buildings or name companies after themselves, while others try to pass on their good name to their kids, hoping and praying that the kids won’t do something dumb to mess it up.
Someone once asked a room full of people how many remembered their parents? As expected, every hand in the room went up. He then asked how many remembered their grandparents – lots of hands went up but definitely fewer than before. Then came the stumper: how many remembered their great grandparents? Not very many. And no surprise, really.
Studies have shown that after three generations, people for the most part tend to be forgotten. Unless they have left some kind of legacy – something they will be remembered for, something that can stand the test of time – good or bad.
It seems that people have always been concerned with their legacy. Benjamin Franklin once wrote: “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Sounds like Franklin, doesn’t it!
We can reach back even further than that to biblical times when King David’s son, Absalom, was busy thinking up his legacy. In 2 Samuel 18:18 the Bible tells us that, “During his lifetime Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it in the King’s Valley as a monument to himself, for he thought, ‘I have no son to carry on the memory of my name.’ He named the pillar after himself, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.” That’s his legacy – a big rock.
So what about us? Are we thinking about our legacy, working on our legacy, or even contemplating a legacy? As James Merritt has said, “I can’t do anything about your heritage, and neither can you. But you can do something about your legacy.” Someone else once penned this advice: “Please think about your legacy, because you’re writing it every day.” Nailed it!! We determine the legacy we leave as we walk out life day by day. It’s ours for the making.
Occasionally people ask me who I want to “hang out with” when I die and go to heaven. This is always an interesting question. Is it Peter, the Apostle Paul, Elijah or maybe even Moses? They all have such amazing legacies. But – I’m living out my own legacy here, busy with coworkers, friends and family building a lasting legacy of my own. The first people I’ll be looking up in heaven are the people I’ve done ‘legacy” with here in my own lifetime. Believe me, we’ll have a ton of great stuff to reminisce about.
Moses was probably a great guy in his time but he never had to deal with purchasing property for a church, and I’m pretty sure he never dealt with a county Building Department. I don’t think Peter ever started a Christian School with fussy kindergarteners, or dealt with adults over air conditioning, pews vs. chairs, the color of the sanctuary carpet, or loudspeakers for music.
Pastoring a church is not for the faint of heart, but it does have tremendous rewards – seeing people saved, healed, delivered and set free – there’s nothing like it in the world. And that’s the legacy I’m working on, in and for. And I absolutely love it. There’s nothing in the world like investing yourself in people and changing lives who, hopefully, will go on to change other lives and they in turn will change someone’s else’s life, and then they will change a life, and they will change a life…you get the picture! That’s at least five generations right there!
The greatest event that could happen to you regarding your own legacy would be something Mark Twain recognized in his life when he said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.” Twain nailed it too!
Susan Beckett is pastor of Dwelling Place Family Church, 27100 Girard Street, Hemet.