The latest edition of The Rotarian Magazine came in the mail yesterday. Before I ever opened it I recognized the face of Bill Gates on the cover and the familiar Rotary call for the eradication of polio. This is a passion for Rotarians around the world and over 2.5 billion children have been immunized thanks to Rotary International. The call has been put out for Rotarians to give 50 million a year for the next three years and it will be matched 2-1 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Awesome challenge and goal but this blog post is not about Rotary or The Gates foundation.
Most of the people who read this do not have billions or millions of dollars to leave as a legacy so what will you and I leave behind? I think about this a lot and find myself more and more philosophical about it. Already this year I’ve had the opportunity to assist over 40 families by conducting memorial services for their loved ones. I ask the same questions with every family. “What were they like? What did they love to do? Who were they?”
Sometimes words are easy to come by and families have lots to say and other times there is awkward silence because they really don’t have much to say. For me my prayer has been that God would give me the ability to see what’s important and what matters to Him and the people around me that are in my sphere of influence. What can I do to influence and motivate others? What resources do I possess that I can pass on? I’m pretty sure it won’t be money. Here are a few things I’m an thinking about.
Faith: OF course I want to pass on my faith in Christ. I want my kids to know that anything short of full surrender to Christ of everything we are and do is to settle for way less then He intended. My faith in Him carries me through every circumstance whether good or bad.
Failure: I will leave a legacy of the fact that I wasn’t perfect and that while I had some notable failures they didn’t write the last chapter. God redeems our lives from destruction. I want to include my failures in my testimony because it is important for people to understand the grace, compassion and mercy of God.
Words: I hope that words I have spoken will leave a lasting impact. I am not talking at all about words used in sermons or classroom lectures. I am talking about words spoken to the hearts of other people. Words of encouragement. Words of thankfulness. Words that built someone up when they were at a low point. Words of praise for jobs well done. Words of correction laced with love. Loving words. Kind words. Words of peace. Words spoken to someone that others ignore.
Listening: I hope to get better at this. Most people have little genuine interest in what you have to say but will sure love you if you listen to what they have to say. Too many times I walk away from conversations and realize I talked way too much. Being a good listener is an art.
Memories: Memories are made by taking time to do something with someone else or for someone else. Memories that I cherish are time spent with my children when they were younger. There were some trips that we made to other parts of the country usually scheduled around my preaching somewhere. For me as a child I remember other adults that took time to do things with me. There was the man that took me on motorcycle rides every now and then. The men that picked me up on Saturday mornings and took me hunting. The men that let me pick up their guitars, mandolins, and banjos over the years and helped me learn a chord or two. Because of them I have always tried to pass on my time to others and especialy kids. I love having a part or playing a role in the growth of kids intellectually, spiritually, and even emotionally.
Grace: For sure I have not always been good at this but after my own unforeseen failure I welcome every opportunity to extend grace to others that need it. I hope that it is more than a passing “nice to see you” kind of grace but one that actually responds by walking closer to the person than ever before. And I never want to walk away from someone no matter how repulsive their actions. If Jesus taught anything by His walk and words on this earth it was to love the broken and bruised.
Compassion: What a huge word! Compassion is so expansive. Compassion for needs around the world. Compassion for people with addictions. Compassion for people in poverty. Compassion for the uneducated that make ignorant choices. Compassion for the educated that make ignorant choices. Compassion comes from a soft heart and a gentle spirit. It is not hateful. Compassion never gives you the right to be mean to anyone behind their backs or to their face. Compassion never laughs or finds delight in the struggles of someone else.
Serving others: There is no substitute for serving others. No matter what titles I have ever held or positions I have enjoyed in the workplace I love to step away from my day to day responsibilities to lend a hand to someone else. Time and schedules often hinder this but serving should always be a part of who we are. Be willing to serve and not always be the one receiving. Someone used this phrase to describe churches. They said, “They are either about “service” or “serve us.” I am confident my oldest two kids got this. I hope that the kids I get to influence these days will be the kind of adults that think of others first and see something that needs to be done and just do it. Currently we are working on actually rinsing the dirty dish instead of leaving it for someone else to deal with hours later or actually replacing the toilet paper roll when the other one runs out. (Lol) I mean it’s the little things. Service begins at home.
Loving the “least of these.” Jesus taught it with force. He tied it into the judgement day scenario. We will be judged on how we engaged or ignored the “least of these.” This is a tough one because of generational poverty and so much mental illness but the “least of these” isn’t always the extreme cases. Sometimes it is the person that is standing in line in front of us or the person across the street. Every chance I get I remind the girls I live with as I am dropping them off at school to love somebody today that others are not willing to love or talk to. Someone once said, “We won’t get into heaven without a letter of reference from the poor.”
Priorities and reminders for me: Put Christ and His principles first. Love Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Spend your precious time on things that matter. Open the Bible daily because it is your roadmap to living. Pray often throughout the day and stay connected to God. Listen for His voice at different moments throughout the day. Sometimes just see how many times you can give God a mental assent of thankfulness in one day. Divorce yourself from this world and its priorities. When we were young it was about what kind of tennis shoes or clothes we wore to school and then you get older and realize that you are judged by the car you drive or the house you live in. Reject the pull to respond to such nonsense. Write more notes to others. Pass out smiles and kind words more often. Be less sarcastic . . . it’s really not all that funny. Put people and conversations before your cell phone. Spend more time with your family. Time is short. Love aggressively and work on being Christ-like always. Thank you Francene for the reminders of how to love others.
“May the words of my mouth and the mediations of my heart be pleasing to you oh Lord my Rock and Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NLT