Go Beyond Making Memories…Leave a Legacy

It is one of the most mournful, haunting sounds you’ll ever hear.  

When you do, it usually means you are honoring someone who has died…someone who once served in a uniform putting their life on the line on behalf of others.  I’ve not only heard that sound many times, I’ve played my trumpet creating that sound when I played Taps. I have vivid memories of playing Taps as part of Memorial Day programs in my hometown.  Soldiers I didn’t know paid a price on my behalf so I would be free to honor them. 


Personal versions of Memorial Day happen every day as people remember loved ones at their funerals. As a pastor, I’ve laid many people to rest. At their service, I would often share memories the family had shared with me or my own experiences with the person.  I would then encourage people to keep sharing stories and memories about the person. “Memories keep the person alive in our hearts.”


What do you want people to say about you? What memories would they share? 


On this Memorial Day, prayerfully consider going beyond making memories that can’t be repeated. Consider making choices that will leave a legacy that will ripple into the generations to come.


What’s the difference between making memories and leaving a legacy?


Both involve making choices.  Both can be intentional. Memories are about unique experiences that can’t be repeated, but can be recalled.  Leaving a legacy goes to a different level.  When we leave a legacy, we can have a rippling influence on our families for generations.  A legacy of faith is especially powerful.


Legacy flows from values. Values are the heart of who you are. Values determine your priorities. They drive your decisions.  They answer the question “why” about our character and choices.  Values are demonstrated by our behavior consistently.  We leave a legacy when we live our values and pass them along to the generations to come.  Some of my values were modeled for me by my parents in such a way that embraced them as my own.  Some of our family values include intimacy with God and family, integrity, generosity, creativity, flexibility, and an identity grounded in grace.  These are values I long to see in the generations to come in our family. 


Legacy inspires vision. Vision is a positive picture of the future about what God can do in and through us for His glory.  Vision is “seeing” not just what is, but what could be. When we leave a legacy, we can inspire others to trust God for greater things. My Dad began to travel internationally in his 50s.  I did my first international trip when I was 40.  One of our daughters was in her teens when she flew to another continent. A key legacy principle for me is, “When we obey God with risk-taking faith in our generation, we make it possible for the next generation to believe God bigger and sooner than we did in ours.”  


Legacy fuels mission. Jesus gave us His great co-mission…wherever we go as His disciples, we are authorized to help people become disciples of Jesus, too.  His love fuels the passion for our co-mission. In every generation, His message of grace and truth stays the same.  Yet in every generation, our methods have to adapt so we can reach people where they are and invite them to choose to follow Jesus.  As we love Jesus and others, we leave a legacy that fuels the passion for being part of God’s mission for generations to come.  In her senior chapel in college, our daughter Aubrey shared something that made my heart leap and weep for joy.  She said, “Some kids are afraid that God might call them into ministry.  I was afraid He wouldn’t.”  

That’s a legacy statement.  Both our daughters and their husbands are in vocational ministry today.  I can’t wait to see what He has in mind for our grandsons!


As we remember and honor those who gave all for us this Memorial Day, take time to consider your own journey.  Take time to make memories.  Even better, make choices that will leave a legacy.


If you’d like to do some deeper reflecting about legacy, consider my book, Fit and Flourish: Discover How God Created You to Make a Difference.”  It includes a section that will help you pray about the legacy you can leave.


Coach Yourself Forward

1. On a day we intentionally honor those who have served us, who can you honor?  Find ways to express your gratitude for those who serve so we can live free.

2. What are some of your favorite memories?  Take some time to enjoy some shared experiences with people that have made life memorable.  How can you make some new memories with those you love?

3. When we talked about legacy, what stood out to you?  What kind of legacy do you want to leave that will have a positive rippling influence for generations to come?  Prayerfully listen to the Lord and see what He says…then follow Him.