What kind of legacy do you want to leave?

Happy New Year! Here we are, already two weeks into another new year! Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? How are they going? If you are finding that you are having trouble keeping those goals you have set to lose weight, exercise more or de-clutter your home, maybe it’s time to think differently about New Year’s resolutions.

Here’s a thought. For 2017, why not consider what kind of legacy you wish to leave?

One of the pioneers in ministry to those in the second half of life is Amy Hansen. Hansen has written extensively on the subject. I love the story she tells about a time she was speaking with a very dedicated retired gentleman. She asked him how it happened that he devoted so much of his time to serving his church and community. Here’s what he said:

When my granddaughter was a little girl, I used to sing a song to her that went like this:

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven,
All good girls go to heaven.
When they get there, they will say,
‘We love Jesus every day.’grandpa

One day, I overheard her singing the song in another room. She sang:

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven,
All good grandpas go to heaven.
When they get there, they will say,
‘GOLF, GOLF, GOLF, GOLF, every day!
WE LOVE JESUS EVERY DAY.’

At this point, Amy says that she cracked up laughing, but he looked her straight in the eyes with a serious look on his face and said, “Amy, in that moment, I saw myself through the eyes of my granddaughter. She saw what my passion was, and this was not the legacy I wanted to leave.”

Now, there was nothing wrong with this man’s desire to play golf. It can bring him exercise, time with friends and acquaintances, and fun. It is a pleasure that he should keep in his schedule, but as he himself came to understand, it’s a hobby that needs to be balanced with those things that engage one’s soul and which bring true meaning.

Unlike many of the resolutions we make, creating a legacy is not just about improving oneself. It’s about helping others and making a difference in the community around you.

Consider where and how God is calling you into service in this New Year. Are you being called to serve at the local food bank? Are there people in your faith community who are lonely and housebound and would love to have you visit? Is there a program at your neighbourhood school or library where you can volunteer to help refugee children learn to read? Can you volunteer at the local hospital or Habitat for Humanity? Alternatively, you may wish to think about becoming a Big Sister or a Big Brother.

Make this still very new year one of your best ever! Share your gifts and talents with others who need your help! Create a legacy of the spirit.

The story included in this blog post is excerpted from Amy Hanson’s Baby Boomers and Beyond: Tapping the Ministry Talents and Passions of Adults Over 50 (San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 2010) p. 185.

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