For what would you like to be remembered? How are you contributing to this goal right now? How long will this legacy last?
My first thought is I would like to be remembered as a Christian mother. I expect that might last 100 years. (I know who Susannah Wesley is, after all.) My sons might remember me their whole lives and perhaps their children, so 160 years.
What stories are there that they would tell? Not a lot of interesting ones. Mom laying on the floor and the boys crawling over her and using her as a jungle gym because she was too tired to get up and they were wide awake. Most of the stories I remember are the ones about them, not about me.
How am I contributing to this? By trying to be the best mom I can. I also want to go with M on a mission trip with our new church. Then he will know someone and he won’t be so afraid and I can go on one too.
Think about the possessions you will leave behind one day. Who will inherit them? Remember, we don’t really own anything. We’re just stewards of what God has given us.
One of the things that is more obvious is that the US is wealthy. I have a single ring from my great-grandmother’s grandmother, who came over from Europe on a ship in her youth/childhood. There is a story of the journey about another family who left everything else at home in order to bring a large black rocking horse which had been in their family for generations. (It was one of my grandmother’s favorite stories as a little girl.) I wonder if the inheritors left it in the East when they went West… I don’t know. I just wonder.
From my great-grandfather, my mom’s grampa, we did have a celery dish that he created the mold for. He was a glass worker in Pennsylvania. But it was broken in the move from NC to NY when I was sixteen. From my great-grandmother, my father’s grama, I have a rocking chair. She was half-Cherokee and I saw her in the old folks’ home when I was little. I just barely remember the chair and her in a bed.
But from my grandmother, we have several paintings. (My middle sister has most of those.) A china cabinet is in my house that was hers. I have two of her chairs. (I did have more but they kept breaking so I gave them to my uncle and aunt. My uncle is a woodworker.) And I have a cabinet my grandfather made.
My mother has furniture that was my great-grandmother’s sister’s. (Aunt Nell had no children.) She also has some of my great-grandmother’s furniture.
I’ve inherited furniture from my parents and my youngest sister. (She upgraded.)
Who will inherit my stuff? My sons. Their families. My grandchildren, if I ever have any. Will they like blue Depression glass and Tarkay and Treby paintings? I don’t know. I hope some of them do. And one day some grandchild, of mine or my sister’s, will inherit my great-grandmother’s chair and my great-great-great-grandmother’s silver and amethyst ring. I hope they will care. I hope they will keep them. I hope they will give them to their grandchildren.
List the three evaluations described here- influence, affluence, and obedience- and give yourself a grade on each one. In which area do you struggle the most? In which do you think you’re doing well? What would your life have to look like for you to achieve an A+ in each one?
“We will all be given a limited number of opportunities to influence others and make a difference in their lives.”
One of the things I’ve been thinking about since I just heard of this book was how do I influence my students? I try to teach my students to write well and I try to pass on my love of reading. But is that worth the effort I put into my classes? Is that what I want to be my legacy?
Why is it important that my students know how to write well? Because I want them to be able to write well enough to get through school. I know that many, if not most, of them will have to write in their jobs after they get out of school. I know writing well can make a difference to other people’s safety (the Challenger) and the safety of their workplace (Three Mile Island) and their jobs (my dad). I share that information with my students and try to get them to invest in this time and class.
Why do I invest? Because I know it can save lives, health, and jobs. Because writing well allows my students to do things they would not be able to do otherwise. It changes their earthly life.
Does it change their eternity? That I don’t know. How can I make an impact on that part of their life? I am not sure.
Am I a good witness for Jesus in my classes? Maybe. What does that mean? I have integrity. I do my best. I work as if to the Lord. Do my student’s know it? Not much.
I, obviously, have made a bigger impact on my son’s lives. But maybe that’s not so good since one of them is an atheist.
I guess I would have to give myself a C in influencing.
If you’re going to have an impact on eternity, you have to consider how you spend your material resources.
How do I spend my material resources?
We are tithing again. That’s made a huge difference to our lives emotionally. Last time we did it, it made a huge negative financial difference. The time before that it made a positive difference. This time it isn’t really apparently effecting our finances.
We aren’t out of debt yet, but we are moving that direction. I don’t know when we will be out of debt. Will we do more if we are out of debt?
One thing I was thinking of was that, if I get a job here and R keeps working where he is, I would like to split what I bring home after tithe. Half of that would go in the bank to help pay for college or educational experiences. The other half would be special offering money. We could send it to Darla to outfit her library in Uganda. We could send it to Sherry to rebuild her house. We could send it to Robert to buy blankets for the tribespeople. We could do some amazing things with that money. It would be fun to see what kind of a difference we could make in the world with $1000 a month.
So, we are doing better afluently than we have been. We could be doing better still. But that would require us to change our lifestyle and I don’t think that is going to happen any time soon. It might. God might call us to something very clearly. But right now it doesn’t look like it.
I guess I would give myself a C here too.
God… gives you just enough time to do everything you need to do, both in your day and in your life.
Here I think I do better. I work hard at being obedient. I try to do what God wants. I ask for his help to do it better. I ask for his guidance if I am off track. I think I have been wrong on some things, but overall I believe that I am doing fairly well here.
Of course, then I’ll look at a particular instance in my life and say, “Okay, maybe not so much.”
But usually I’d say at least a B. Maybe a B+.
What would my life have to look like to get an A+ in each one?
I would have to know for sure what it is God wants me teaching. If it is writing and reading, then I will continue to do as good a job on that as I know how. If I’m supposed to do something else, then I would like to know what… and maybe some hints on how.
I want to be a light in a dark place. I work in a couple of dark places. I know I have been an encouragement to my veterans. I don’t know if I have been an encouragement to anyone else. Some of my students said so. That would mean yes, I guess.
What would it look like if I were inspiring? I guess I would keep in touch with old students more than I do. I saw one this weekend who is doing exactly what he wanted to do. My class probably had no influence over that, since he came in planning to do that. But I would like to keep in touch with the students who think I have made a difference.
Financially, we would have paid off our debts. We would stop eating out so much. We would find worthy causes to give our money to, maybe researching with the boys or working with them to use the money wisely. We would be personally involved in works as well as financially involved.
If I were obedient, I am not sure it would look any different than it does now. Hopefully, though, his glory would be more obvious in my life.
Review your calendar for last month. How much of your time was spent on temporary goals? How much on an eternal legacy? Look over your checkbook and credit-card statements. How much of your money was spent on temporary things? How much on eternal investments? Consider at least one way in the week ahead that you can invest in an eternal legacy.
Last month I spent about sixty hours applying for jobs or working on the applications for the jobs.
I spent about twenty hours exercising.
I spent sixteen to twenty hours talking with my sons while we were driving places in the car. I spent two hours helping them to learn to drive.
I spent about four hours cleaning the house, cooking, and doing laundry. (The boys have taken over most of that.)
I spent eighty hours teaching classes. I spent nine hours commuting to my jobs. I spent forty hours grading papers.
That’s 253 hours. Church was another twelve hours. Sleeping eight hours a night… That’s 505 hours. In the last month I had 696 hours. So that is another 194 unaccounted for. I probably spent twenty hours eating. Sixty hours reading. Fifteen hours visiting with my parents, my sisters, my nieces and nephew. That’s 99 hours I am not sure what I did…
Most of my time, unlike what a month usually looks like for me, was taken up with work. 209 hours were spent on work or work-related things. Some of that commuting I redeemed. I prayed a lot during that time. The last week I’ve listened to Matthew and Mark on tape. I also called friends and family and stayed in touch…
But overall most of my life revolves around work now. Hmm. I love what I do, but is it the best use of my time?