Today, I want this post to be different. First, we predominantly focus on financial issues, but today let’s look at something more important than money. Second, I want to talk specifically with the men who read. This isn’t sexist, but we need more men to accept a challenge left for us in Scripture. The challenge presented applies to women as well, but I will leave it for others to make that application.
I have a friend, who regularly posts stories on Facebook. He will post a photo, often an individual or family from years ago. He will share stories of how the lives of those in the photo either blazed a trail in world missions, or his story will focus on how a family served as key advocates of others, sometimes providing critical encouragement or strategic advice shaping the future of a ministry. My friend writes eloquently of the legacy heroes created through a life committed to Christ.
Creating a retirement is an important step in life! Creating a nest egg that allows us to pursue passions and provide for physical needs during our senior years is honorable. It does not violate the principles of Jesus in Matthew 6:19-20. The ethic of storing away for the future is as old as Joseph’s advice to Pharaoh about overcoming an upcoming famine (Genesis 41). However, creating a legacy lives beyond one’s life!
The first principle is for all men to live a life connected to others. In general, with obvious exceptions, men are task oriented to the point of ignoring others around them. God inspired Paul to remind Timothy to pass along the things he learned to others. (2 Timothy 2:1-2) Even in people-oriented occupations like ministry, missions, and nonprofit service, the male personality can become bent on accomplishing any task at hand, giving no thought to mentoring others. We must not allow ourselves to become sufficiently absorbed in our work that we fail to pass on what we have learned to others.
Leaving a legacy requires allowing others into our lives. It requires us to put ourselves at risk for disappointment and grief, because those we mentor may chose to ignore our advice. However, it also places us in line for anticipation and joy. There are few moments when life is as full as when one we mentor succeeds! The greatest craftsman in the world will likely define their greatest achievement as the developed skill of an apprentice.
The second legacy building principal for a man to master is devotion to one’s spouse. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) “Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.” (Colossians 3:19) The example of love and devotion Paul chose is both compelling and frightening. There is no doubt about the compelling love of Christ Paul described in Philippians 2. Jesus never considered equality with God as something to which he would cling. Instead, he willingly and voluntarily released that position, taking on the role of a human bond slave. This resulted in him enduring the most heinous, harrowing, humiliating form of capital punishment ever created. Christ did this not for his own good but ours. Being God, there was nothing for him to gain from this action.
The frightening part of this example is our inability to live up to it. We each know our own frailties too well. The human inclination is to think it is our turn to be served in some fashion. The needs of the fragile male ego regularly leave men yearning for encouraging words from a wife. With each sunrise, Satan prepares a man for failure through a flirtatious glance from another. My father was not perfect, but one thing I knew was my Mom was HIS CHOSEN. Men, we can help build a legacy that lingers for generations if we commit to honoring our bride as Christ loved the church!
The final element building an enduring legacy is this, fathers…be a source of encouragement and discipline to children. Paul wrote this to the church at Colossae, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.” (Colossians 3:21) Can I brag again on my imperfect father (and mother)? From my earliest childhood, I remember being told that I could become whatever I wanted to be. Without question, my father corrected my errors. He was a genius with his hands. However, realizing I had none of these abilities, he humorously told me that I needed to learn to make a living with my mouth! Children are fragile, and they need to be led with encouragement. “You will do this better if you make this change,” is less exasperating than, “You are never going to learn to do this, are you.”
There is a point of balance to being a voice of encouragement. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” We do not want to destroy a child’s confidence, but every child needs discipline and instruction. The flip side of my Dad encouraging me was this – he never once allowed me to beat him even in a game of checkers. I was disciplined through loss (and punishment), while being instructed that anything worthwhile in life was earned through honest effort.
Many legacies live on through my life. Those of my parents and the parents of my wife are obvious. There are also the lives of fine men and women in the church of my youth and the minister of my wife’s home church who led us to college. So many more that can never be named here have helped shape us. Saving for our retirement is important. A man should help provide one for his family, and this blog will return to that soon. However, a legacy is more valuable than money. While you are busy building a career and a nest egg, never forget to build something that lives on for generations.