Have you ever considered how important it is as a Christian to share your legacy? Several weeks ago, one of my business mentors pushed several participants through a challenge that forced us to step outside of our comfort zones and get personal with our followers. Throughout the five-day challenge, we were well—challenged to become vulnerable and honest and to think deeply about why we do what we do. On the final day of the challenge, I was traveling to visit my father who resides in a home for Veterans in Upstate New York. It was during that visit that I realized what it really means to share a Legacy of Love. This post comes from my visit on that beautiful day.
It was Friday, and the final day of my business mentor’s challenge. In the mid-afternoon, I was torn between visiting with my father or getting in on the final meeting with the group of participants before I visited with him. I jumped onto the live video for a couple of minutes, but then looked around me at my father and all the brave men and women who now suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s and realized I needed to be present with them while they were sitting outside on a beautiful summer day.
We are faced with choices daily, and sometimes, we don’t realize how much one small choice can impact a lasting outcome. In this instance, I chose to forgo the final session of the challenge to be present with my father and my youngest son who had made the journey with me. It was the right decision for numerous reasons.
While we sat on a covered patio, I took in the surroundings of this peaceful farm country. The beautiful pots of red white and blue flowers and American flags in planters around the patio; the cloudless sky with airplane tales painting white lines on the blueness; the warmth of the sunshine that soothed away memories of winter; the sound of birds chirping as they flew from tree branch to the ground and back were just a few of God’s beautiful creations songs and paintings I observed.
Part of the challenge I had participated in was “SERVING WITH LOVE,” and as I looked at these beautiful veterans, and I saw what having a servant’s heart looks like. It looks like courage, bravery, patriotism, love for others and selflessness. I also observed those caring for our elderly population, and carefully watched them as they held and rubbed a resident’s hand, made sure they had water if needed and lovingly took care of their needs.
As I looked at the wrinkled hands and faces and blank stares of my father and the other residents, I thought of what each person had accomplished in his or her lifetime. I wanted to know their stories, but knew they could no longer tell them.
I always want to know a person’s story because I value what their stories are and how meaningful it is to share them with others who truly care. I urge all of us to take an introspective look at how we can best communicate by caring about others. After all we are the hands and feet of our Master, Jesus, and he set the example of what it looks like to care.
I believe that SERVING WITH LOVE really looks like what I saw on a summer day while sitting on a patio at a nursing home for Veterans.
When we consider leaving a legacy, I’m not certain that it’s about MAKING a legacy as much as it’s about LIVING with INTENTIONAL PURPOSE, which includes loving, sharing, serving, listening, observing and caring for those who come along in the pathway that is life.
In a culture where celebrities and politicians get more attention given to them about what legacy they are leaving behind, it makes one think about what leaving a legacy of love really means. To me, there are others whose legacies aren’t mere words that have been edited into a sound bite or photo opp. There are those whose legacy isn’t celebrated or talked about by critical media minds.
This great nation’s freedom has not been given to us by the newsmakers or the famous. Our freedom has been generously and selflessly given to us by the courageous and brave men and women who gave of themselves. The ones whose names are not known, whose faces aren’t highlighted in the media, and whose stories may never be told, but we know them for they were our fathers, mothers, spouses, aunts, uncles, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins and friends.
That summer day with my dad I stopped, observed, listened and engaged. My heart and eyes were opened wider to appreciate what I may have missed out on had I not chosen to be present. I wrote the observations in my mind and have now included them in this post:
ALWAYS HAVE OPEN EYES to see what may be missed.
ALWAYS LOOK TO OTHERS with wonder to understand.
ALWAYS OBSERVE WITH COMPASSION for not all sadness is outward.
ALWAYS LEAVE JUDGMENT for the self-righteous.
ALWAYS STAY HUMBLE by appreciating everything.
ALWAYS RISE ABOVE BEING OFFENDED–that’s for the self-absorbed.
ALWAYS LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND rather than speak.
ALWAYS CHOOSE TO LOVE rather than disregard another.
ALWAYS LOOK TO GOD for guidance and wisdom.
ALWAYS SERVE WITH LOVE and SHINE YOUR LIGHT.
If our hearts are open to serving and sharing with love, then we can look in the mirror at the end of every day and say a prayer: “Thank you Father for bringing all the people I’m honored to engage with and work with into my life so that I can be your instrument by loving and serving them.”
My father is a Korean War Veteran, father of five, grandfather of 18 and husband and caregiver to my mother who lost her fight with Alzheimer’s far too young. My visits with him are always precious because even though a stroke robbed him of speaking clearly and even though dementia has robbed him of remembering my name, as I listen to the home where he resides play patriotic songs like God Bless America, I notice that he still remembers those words and tunes, and is proud for what they represent—LOVE OF GOD and COUNTRY.
I hope you’ll be bold and brave and follow God’s leading in your heart by sharing your LEGACY NOW, while you still can; there’s a world waiting to hear your story. Join us at our upcoming CAPTIVATE Conference to learn more.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.