What do others say about you today? What will others say when you are gone? Will it be about your accomplishments, your interaction with others or about how you lived out your faith?
Since I was 5 years of age I wanted to be a Major League Baseball player. Everything was focused on that mission. Nothing else mattered other than reaching the goal. Vision and mission is essential in life and I had it down in becoming a ball player. Fortunately, God had given me the body, ability and stamina to make it, whereas many other young kids fall short of this big league dream.
Even before knowing about legacy, my single focus was set on one goal, the Major Leagues. Most believe that legacy is a set of accomplishments in a field of expertise. My beliefs were not any different.
While accomplishments is all good, is it short sighted in vision? Are there other components involved? Does healing wounds have a fit? What about having a value for relationships? So does healing wounds and developing meaningful relationships have anything to do with legacy or is legacy strictly about having a list of achievements?
In my years as a Christian, one thing shines through about life, you can’t take all your stuff with you into eternity. So then, what matters, what transitions into eternity?
I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older that fame is fleeting, some people say in reference to me, “Jim who, when did you play or better yet, did you catch before Ivan Rodriquez?” Some young kids today don’t even know about Pudge, the Hall of Famer, even Nolan Ryan is distant if you can believe that! Those admissions seem almost like crimes to Texas sports fans.
So what legacy elements matter that transitions into eternity? The Bible ultimately says that having your name written in the book of life matters most. In other words, how we have walked with Jesus and been transformed by Him in this life, matters most. This relationship leads the way along side having other meaningful relationships. And yes we will take our skill sets (how He made us) with us to be utilized for eternity in a new perfected body.
What does walking with Jesus mean in this life? I believe it sets a vision and a challenge for us to love the Lord God with all your heart, soul and might. This is the bases of legacy and a giant task that takes a lifetime to transform. If we love God it sets the stage for us to care for ourselves (wellness) and to love others (relationships), all three major components to legacy.
The fact that He first loved us and forgave us starts the process. This is the genesis of legacy, that we accept Him as Lord and Savior and begin the relationship with Him. This jump starts the clock to a lasting legacy and allows us to be vulnerable with a loving God who wants us to know Him and for Him to transform our hearts, all hearts of which have been wounded at some time.
Caring for Self
Caring for self matters in this life because it’s part of transforming us to better love God. Emotional wellness (healing) is essential to joy and peace. This healing process is a must in learning to love others the way God loves. Emotional wellness is a tough mission though, a vital component to healing wounds and finding freedom from the darkness of this world. And forgiving others who have wounded us is a major part to healing.
When I was around 9 years old I was working on a broken bike and while trying to fix it, my hand slipped and I hurt my thumb. Out of my mouth flew, “Sunny Beach!” I had been trained to not cuss so I got very creative with words chosen to speak. I knew what I meant to say and when the words flew out of my mouth, I actually ducked, looking in both directions, wondering what my dad might have heard. Sure enough, out of the corner of the garage dad flew in a furry. “What you say Jim, grunted dad?” “Sunny day at the beach dad, I responded”. He didn’t buy it!
He picked me up with one hand, while opening doors with the other, until we got to my room where he preceded to beat me and shake me uncontrollable. Don’t know what dad was going through at the time that made him so angry but as I was weeping, I asked him what I did that was so wrong. Dad said, “it’s not what you said but what you were thinking”! I got a licking for what I was thinking. It’s tough enough when mistakes are made, but for what one was thinking? Was this form of discipline over board? Sure it was!
Later I would find out that my dad had a grandfather that use to embarrass him with cussing. My dad determined none of his kids would cuss. I’m thankful today for that value as it has shaped me positively in a world gone crazy with the “F” word.
It’s not a difficult thing in today’s world to be wounded by another in childhood or either at work, by a friend or at home. This incident negatively effected me for years into adulthood, keeping me in bondage to emotional isolation from others and with unforgiveness toward dad; Isolation because the message I got was, don’t share what you think with anyone or else and harboring an anger toward dad for a pain lasting years.
Years of counseling helped some but it wasn’t until I heard Jesus say one day, “you did nothing wrong Jim, I actually thought it was creative. Just like I made you!” When you hear from God, it matters. Those words of compassion, mercy and understanding changed my heart. Those words diffused the pain I had harbored inside, in that moment of hearing those words, I was set free and ready to love others.
Many people hinder their development of a lasting legacy because of their choice to forgo healing and pursue forgiveness. Healing past wounds and forgiving others sets the stage for having a greater legacy in life primarily because it frees us to love God and love others as God does. All of which transfers into eternity.
While I was so focused on being the best catcher in baseball, I didn’t have any meaningful relationships. Isolated from others with not one close relationship until after being saved around 1977. Even kept Janet, who I had been married to for six years, at arms length emotionally. Everything was about me as it is when the focus is on self. Having any meaningful relationships was not my choosing. Didn’t fit the agenda, what purpose does relationships serve, I thought!
In 1984, I created a purpose statement for my life because it was then, that I realized my life was still overly focused on baseball and I needed something to put in print that I could look at and move towards. In that mission statement it basically gives three important elements to legacy; “to develop a loving family, a consistent investment in the lives of people and an earnest attempt to serve the one and only God who made me, and nothing else makes much sense”!
It has taken thirty-seven years to nurture this purpose statement. God has gotten ahold of my life to transform my heart into where it is today, yet there’s more to come. It is a blessing to watch our loving children develop their own loving families. Three adult children with ten loving grandkids is such a wondering thing to watch.
Having investments in the lives of others and them investing in oneself is a wonderful choice. Outside my family, I currently have about 15 men, in some form of an inner circle, with another 10 that I stay in close contact with either through phone conversations, meeting times, lunch or coffee. It is energizing to interact and share life with so many. Being proactive about a mission statement helps to keep important elements of life in front of you.
It is a worthwhile exercise to sit down and craft out a purpose statement that involves the three elements of legacy that includes; loving God, caring for self and loving others because your legacy matters. All of which builds a lasting legacy and transfers into eternity.