As we look forward to celebrating fathers this month, I have been reflecting on what it means as a father to leave a legacy. My reflection has not centered around what I hope to leave behind at the end of my life, but around the question of “What do I do each day to live out my legacy?” Deuteronomy 6:5-7 says:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
As a father, these words reveal a legacy that is to be walked and shaped every day. Loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength is not simply something I can leave behind me in death, but something that has to be molded by daily actions and words. How do I impress this kind of legacy on my children? How do I teach them that loving God and loving others is the one thing from which all others flow? The answer is relatively simple when I sit back and really think about it–by living a life of love daily in how I care for my family, co-workers, friends, neighbors, and strangers.
THE STORY OF MY DAD
I have been blessed because my father is an amazing example of loving God and others. As I have watched him throughout my life, the things that have left the biggest impression are not the things that he gave me but the love he showed our family and others with whom he has come in contact. My dad has battled cancer for 20 years, and it has been an uphill battle that has significantly impacted his physical strength and ability, but it can’t take away his love for God. Even when his body wants to give up, he is there, willing to show up and help others, constantly looking to see what he can do to encourage someone.
This week, I asked my children, “ Who do you know that is like a hero?” Truthfully, I was hoping they would say, “You, dad!” The resounding answer, however, was, “Grandpa!” When I asked why they said grandpa, they all echoed that it is because he is always willing to help others without being asked. The fact that he ALWAYS has pockets full of candy for them also swayed their answer, of course!
Why does my dad do this? Because he is living out his love for God by showing others love with all his heart, soul, and strength. My father recognized the power of living out his legacy daily many decades ago. He never strived to build an empire or leave behind a bank account that could sustain us for years to come and understood all his toil on earth and his years of work would eventually fade. His love in the form of a kind word, an act of service, or an unexpected treat is what sets him apart and truly transforms his children and their children with a legacy that will endure.
I realize that not everyone has this kind of earthly father and legacy to look to for guidance. Yet we can all look at the legacy of Jesus when seeking a model for how to love. Jesus walked not as a man seeking earthly wealth or riches, but as a man who left behind a legacy of reaching out to those who are sick, feeding those who were hungry, comforting those who were grieving, and listening to those who had questions. Scriptures are full of his legacy of love from when he woke to when he went to bed and every step throughout his day. Love, with the words and actions that shape it, were the legacy Jesus lived every day.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
How are you leaving a daily legacy? It is easy to get caught up in the race of life, trying to create something big and monumental that will last forever, but forgetting to live and show love for God each day in the small imprints you make on the hearts, minds, and lives of others. Do not despair if you are unsure or unsatisfied with your current legacy. There is an ancient Chinese adage that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Be encouraged! Life is a process of learning and trying to do better than you did yesterday and implementing the lessons and love that come your way. From this day forward, why not commit to being intentional about your legacy? How do you want your children, your children’s children, your neighbors, and your friends to remember you? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength and you will love others in the same way.
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.
ALTAR LEGACY ADVENTURES
Altar Fly Fishing, as part of its vision, strives to change today’s story of fatherhood so it becomes a life-shaping legacy. One intentional father can change the lives and families of many generations to come. Many intentional fathers can change the world! Altar Legacy Adventures are retreats designed for fathers and their children to create environments where love can be shared, lasting memories formed, and the power of legacy can deepen.
To learn more about Altar Fly Fishing and our Legacy Adventures visit us at www.altarflyfishing.org. Let us know how we can be part of your journey as you build a lasting legacy as a father at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Father’s Day from the Altar Staff.