Legacy. I’ve been thinking a bit about it in connection to a few special projects I’ve been working on this year. Firstly, there is the upcoming celebration for 125 years of Adventist Record. Also, the broader Adventist Heritage Month in October and editing the connected daily devotional (see page 7 for details). I’m honestly so excited for you to read all the entries—the unbelievable true and sometimes unreported stories of faithfulness, dedication and conviction.
My maternal grandparents became Adventists around 1950. They fairly much headed straight to Avondale before devoting their lives to working for the Church, in the mission field and at home—well into retirement, volunteering in remote churches like Port Pirie, SA and Lord Howe Island.
My paternal grandparents both studied at Avondale. My grandfather worked almost his whole adult life for the Sanitarium Health Food Company. I remember he never went anywhere without his Bible and Sabbath school lesson. Further back on that side, my ancestors arrived in Australia as faithful Lutherans fleeing from religious persecution.
Faithful heritage is no guarantee of anything. As Jesus told Nicodemus, we all need to be born again (John 3). God has no grandchildren. Yet, reading these stories, remembering my own family history, is an important reminder of exactly how much impact our actions and decisions can make on our lives and the lives of those who come after us.
Remembering is an important theme in the Bible. The word “remember” as listed in the fourth commandment, is found 232 times in the Hebrew text.
These memories come from the legacy of faith we’ve been passed. From stories of sacrifice and mission, my parents’ regular church attendance, Adventist education and the Avondale experience. These were legacies I was gifted by my parents, their parents and those who came before me.
But what about my life. What does my legacy look like? My wife and I are in the thick of raising our family. How will my life and faith contribute to that of my friends, acquaintances, children, siblings—everyone I’m connected with?
We need to understand the impact of our choices and the examples we set each and every day. Don’t take what I’m saying the wrong way. I’m not trying to put extra pressure on or guilt anyone into feeling like they’re not achieving enough, not working hard enough.
We can leave a legacy by the simple, everyday things we do. Being an encouraging presence in our workplace by smiling and listening to people, adding a word of hope where we can. We can be loyal, dependable, faithful to keep our word when we give it. We can be generous, giving to those in need, to friends and family of our time, talent and treasure. We can pray every day for opportunities to fill a need.
Like the Sabbath school song says, we can read our Bibles and pray every day to be filled with the Holy Spirit. His presence in our lives will overflow to those around us and impact them in a lasting way.
In these ways we can leave a lasting legacy, not by building a pyramid to be remembered for, but by building good practices.
Often at a funeral, you hear about how the deceased made someone feel, not how many projects they completed, how much money they made or raised, how many things they built.
If I make the big, difficult decisions in my life by answering the question,
“How can I glorify God and do His will in this situation?”, I’ve provided the baseline for leaving a legacy to be proud of.
But all of my interpersonal relationships, my little choices and interactions each day, can also make a huge difference in the lives of those around me.