On Making a Legacy

Posted on: October 27, 2018, by :

Last Wednesday I attended a service of thanksgiving for the wife of a good friend who had died after a long struggle with a brain tumour. It was a beautiful service, and my friend contributed magnificently with an honest and tender tribute to the woman he loved. Others also spoke of the impact that this strong/frail woman had had on their lives. It got me thinking about how I might be remembered by others.

During this coming week the Church will mark All Saints’ Day (November 1), recalling and affirming the saints of the church, those pillars of society whose lives have helped shape the world.  It’s a good prompt to recall and affirm our own personal saints – the people whose names are held gently in our hearts and who have made a particular impact upon us – remembering them, perhaps with a touch of sadness, but overwhelmingly with a depth of gratitude, because these people have made a difference to our lives, have helped to shape and form us and the world we live in.

Not many of them will be ‘famous’ in the generally accepted sense of that word. We will not find their names in the common lists of heroes or legends. But we will remember them because they are heroes to us; they are our saints. Whether by their generosity, their wisdom, their patience, their wit, their perseverance, their grace, their kindness or whatever other qualities we might have experienced in them, their life has helped to shape our own, and for that reason they matter to us.

Which again raises the question of how I might be remembered by others. What will be the character traits and qualities that my friends and family recall about me, that people might cherish about me? What will they say about me when I’m gone!? I know what I would like people to say about me – that list from Galatians would be acceptable: … love, joy, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  [Gal 5:22]  But is this actually how people experience me? Not always! I know all too well that sometimes people experience me in ways I hope they don’t remember!

Thank God it’s not too late to do something about it! I have the opportunity to shape the way I will be remembered by how I choose to live now, by the way I treat others, the way I talk, the way I drive, the way I act in the office, the way I play sport, the way I watch football (well, actually, I hope that one doesn’t count!) – all of this and more will determine how people experience me now, and how they remember me later. My whole life will be my legacy!

I’ll continue to have moments when I know that I have not been true to my own prayers, my own yearnings; moments when the qualities of the Spirit are lost amidst the words “You’re an idiot umpire!”  But then God will quietly and gently remind me that that is not who I want to be, or the person that God wants me to be, and together, God and me, we’ll get on with the job of creating a better legacy!

David Brooker

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