Legacy Building: What will you leave behind?

The dictionary definition of legacy is, “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.” Simply put, your legacy is something that lasts long after you are gone. It is what you leave behind in your work and in your family, especially in your kids. Exodus 20 tells us that a father can send the love of God down through a thousand generations. Have you given thought to your fathering legacy?

Navy and green background with gray and white circles on the right side. Legacy Building is in large text. Below there is text that reads "What will you leave behind? What do you want to leave as your legacy?"

When I think of legacy

When I think of leaving a legacy, I often think of football recruiting. A ‘legacy recruit’ is someone whose dad played for a team, and they follow in the footsteps of their dad when they are recruited to play for the team. Whatever team you root for, you probably can find some name of a ‘famous’ player whose son or daughter now plays on the high school or college alma mater.

I think of the legacy of the first black professional baseball player, Moses Fleetwood ‘Fleet’ Walker, who is credited with being one of the first black man to play in Major League Baseball. Or Jackie Robinson who really broke the color barrier in professional baseball, at age 28, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Or in 1950, Early Lloyd, became the first African American to play in an NBA game for the Washington Capitols. 

I think of the ‘legacy’ of our forefathers, and the sacrifices they made at great peril of their own wealth and life, to create a new nation in 1776. A legacy that we celebrate every July 4th. The history of our country is full of legacy building events, some great and good, and others that have left scars in the fabric of our psyche.

The Legacy of a Father

As a father of four, and a grandfather of 12, I think of the legacy that I will leave behind. I will never be a famous athlete, politician, poet, writer, or paragon of wealth.  The real question is what will I leave behind?  What do I want to leave behind as MY legacy?

In reflection, I cannot help but think of the legacy that my own father left behind! What did I receive that was good and I want to pass on as my legacy? What did he give me that I don’t want to pass on? In this way my father’s legacy lives through me.

  • What will my own children say in answer to those questions?
  • Will they know that I loved them?
  • Will I have loved them in a manner that was healthy and in a way that they desired?
  • Did I model love and respect for their mother?
  • Did I demonstrate commitment and sacrifice out of love?
  • Did I connect emotionally and intellectually with them?
  • Did I demonstrate a Godly attitude and example? Did I own my mistakes and apologize?
  • Did I show them how to work hard, be consistent and persistent, how to dream, how to be self-controlled and disciplined?
  • I wonder if I encouraged them to speak up and stand up for what they believe?
  • Did I give them freedom to follow their desires, to be the best that God created them to be?
  • Did I instill in them the values I believe in?
  • Did I demonstrate the attitude of facing hard things in life with hope, faith, and love?

These are the things I think about. It is not how much money I will leave them, although that is important to me. It is the relational ideals, the intangibles, the attitudes, the Godly perspective, and principles that will guide them as they pass those qualities on to their children.

On this Day we celebrate Father’s, what legacy are you passing on?

If you want help learning how to leave a lasting legacy in your children or in your business we are here to help! Dr. Don Gilbert is now accepting new coaching and business consulting clients. He is also available to speak to your church, mission group, or business organization. Otherwise we have many other kind and caring professional counselors ready to help you process the legacy left for you and create a legacy your children will be proud to pass on. Contact us today to learn more!

Dr. Don Gilbert

Dr. Don Gilbert is the owner of New Life Counseling. With over 20 years counseling experience he is also an ordained minister, author, and John Maxwell certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker. You can read more about his expertise here.