1. A Life Well-Lived. This month’s first week I will cover the importance of leaving a legacy of a life well-lived. I will see how our lives impact all those who follow us. I will also introduce the topics we will review later in the month.
2. Principles to Live By. In Week Two, I will cover key principles to live by that will help you leave a legacy. These will be the foundations of a life that leaves an impact on others. The principles I live by are the basis for the kind of legacy I will leave behind. I will also begin our how-tos by looking at how to leave a relational legacy. All of life is based on relationships, and we choose what direction those relationships go. We can live our lives in such a way that when we are gone, people are impacted by the relational legacy we left behind.
3. The Importance of a Spiritual Legacy and an Impact Legacy. Week Three I will cover both how to leave a spiritual legacy as well as how to leave an “impact legacy.” The core of who we are as individuals is spiritual. We were created with the intention of relating to God through our spiritual life. One of the greatest gifts we can leave behind is a spiritual example and legacy. We will also talk about how to leave a life legacy that impacts people. There are those who live on this earth and then just disappear, leaving little more than a trace. And then there are others who, through their legacy, live on in others for years to come. We will talk about how to be the latter.
4. Financial Legacy. In Week Four, we will look at leaving a business legacy, a financial legacy, and a family legacy. We will see how the businesses we operate have a deeper impact than we might have imagined. We will talk about establishing a strong financial base that will provide for others long term. We will also look at one of the most important aspects of legacy, those we touch most deeply: our family.
So let’s talk about the topics for this week!
Leaving a Spiritual Legacy
As I said earlier, I will talk about a financial legacy next week—something that many people strive for and that is indeed important. But even more important, and in fact more important in my mind, is a spiritual legacy.
What is a spiritual legacy? It is the kind of spiritual life you instill in your children, your spouse, friends, co-workers and relatives. It is also the example you set for them to follow.
As many of you are aware after reading just a portion of my writings, or from listening to my audio programs, the profound impact that my own parents had on me is obvious. And the most important legacy they left for me was a spiritual legacy—my faith.
We live in a world that focuses on the material. Of course, that is where we live and the material world is important. But even more important is our spiritual world. The fact is, we are going to spend a lot more time in our spiritual existence than we are in our temporal home on this earth. That idea alone should motivate us to spend more energy on our spiritual lives and the legacy we leave for others.
Let’s take some time this week to give some thought and reflection on how to leave a dynamic spiritual legacy, but one brief note before we do. I am writing this from the perspective of my own faith, Christianity. I recognize and appreciate those of you who may not share my faith. I simply ask that if I use language in the following paragraphs that is specific to Christianity, that you would take the principles and the philosophy and apply it to your specific situation.
Here are some principles for leaving a spiritual legacy:
1. Understand that you are a spiritual person. You have a body, yes. You also have a mind, will and emotions. You can’t see them, but they are there. You also have a spiritual core—a soul, if you will, that is every bit as much a part of you as your left arm is. You may not see it, and society may not place a high value on it, but you are—at your core—a spiritual person as much as you are a physical person. In fact, when your physical body dies, your spiritual “body” will live on. Because of this, commit to a dynamic spiritual life yourself.
2. Commit time and energy to developing your spiritual self. To be a wealthy person, you must commit time and energy to making money and wise investments. To be a healthy person, you must commit time and energy to exercising and eating right. To be an intelligent person, you must commit time and energy to learning, memorizing and studying. To be a spiritual person, you must commit time and energy to developing your spiritual person through spiritual disciplines. If you don’t commit to this, and if you don’t discipline yourself the same way you would in other areas of life, you will not achieve growth in your spiritual life.
3. Study the Scriptures and internalize them. The wealth of knowledge that I have found in the Bible is incalculable. It is immeasurable, and it is invaluable. So much of my philosophies for life, work and business have come from a foundation the Bible and its teachings have provided. My parents taught me at an early age to study the Bible and to internalize it through memorizing both chapter and verse, as well as the concepts they contained. Words cannot describe how important that has been in my life. If you want to become financially wise, you would read The Wall Street Journal and books on investing so you can gain knowledge. If you want spiritual knowledge, you must study the Scriptures. Don’t just study them, though—make them a part of who you are.
4. Follow the Golden Rule. Perhaps the most well-known concept from the Bible is the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It seems obvious to me that the reason it is so well-known is because it is so applicable. It is something that anyone can hold up as a goal for their life and conduct. And in doing so, it will make you a more spiritual person because it will cause you to value people more and be more concerned for their needs.
5. Be a “pray-er” as well as a doer. There is an old saying that you should pray like it depends on God and act like it depends on you. That is good advice, and we would do well to take heed of it. Unfortunately, I think many people ignore what I view to be a tremendous source of strength: prayer. I do not mean elaborate prayers. I mean straight and simple reflection and communication with God. It is powerful when you are doing the best you can and then let God take care of the rest.
6. Be involved in a community of faith. One of the things I hear when I talk with people is the complaint that churches are full of hypocrites. Well, I know that people are not perfect. I know that people do things they shouldn’t, even in the name of God. But I also know that there are millions of good-willed and good-hearted people in the world who are a part of a local community of faith and who can potentially bring a great deal of good to you if you had a relationship with them. When you find the right one—and it may take some looking—you will benefit by belonging to a community of faith.
7. Keep an eternal perspective. Sometimes people take life too seriously. They forget that the day will come when it will be time to pack up all the marbles, hand them to the person who comes after them and go home. We would do well to remember that this life is short. Yes, it is important—very important—but it is also temporal. It isn’t going to last. The only thing that lasts is the legacy that you create, develop and leave for those who come after you.
8. Take your children to church. Zig Ziglar says when asked why parents should take their children to church: “Parents should take their children to church for the same reason they should make them eat broccoli—because it’s good for them!” I truly believe that a good moral, religious and spiritual foundation that teaches the concepts of the Bible and how to have a relationship with God is absolutely essential for the human life, especially if you take a look around at what is going on in the world today—more now than ever before. Yes, parents are the primary instructors of their children, but involvement in a good church will provide a tremendous support system.
9. Live out what you know to be true spiritually. You have heard the word before—a hypocrite. Essentially a hypocrite is one who says they believe one thing but then does another. The world would be better off with fewer hypocrites. One of the goals in leaving a spiritual legacy is that we should live in such a way that we are not hypocritical. We act according to what we say we believe. Yes, we all make mistakes—that is part of being human—but there is a big difference between making a one-time mistake and lifestyle patterns that conflict with what you say you believe. If you want people to take your spiritual legacy seriously, then this is an issue to settle in your life.
10. Love others. In all things, act in love. If you can’t say that what you are doing, or saying, or even thinking, falls under the category of love, then don’t do it. The Bible says, “God is Love.” If God is described that way, then we would do well to strive to emulate Him and live the kind of lives that are characterized by love.
Folks, you will leave a legacy of some sort. The powerful thought is that we get to choose what kind it will be. Take some time this week to think through what kind of spiritual legacy you will leave behind. Will people be better off spiritually by your actions, your words, your very life? Let’s all make it a goal that the people we come in contact with will indeed.
Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!
In order to help you reflect upon this week’s lesson, I want to ask you a question: What in the world are you doing?
Here is the typical life—typical, though not everybody does it this way. But, for the most part, people’s lives generally go something like this:
You eat and sleep.
You play with toys.
You go to school.
You play little league.
You go to school.
You learn to drive.
You go to school.
You leave high school.
You go to more school, but you pay for it now.
You get a job.
You get married.
You buy a house.
You have kids.
You watch your kids eat, sleep, play and go to school.
You work, work and work.
That’s the basic life, isn’t it? I know there is more to it, but that is about it for most people.
Here is that question again: What in the world are you doing?
What are you doing besides the typical “enjoying yourself while you are waiting to die” scenario? What kind of impact are you making?
What I believe sets the successful apart is that they don’t just live the average life. They don’t just pass time. They make an impact. They have something compelling in their life that drives them, something that gives them an answer when they are asked the question: What in the world are you doing?
I’m helping children.
I’m creating a business that supports many families.
I lead a church.
I am defending our liberties.
I am raising great children.
I’m teaching others to improve their lives.
I help people have fun.
I create memories for people.
In other words, successful people always come down to this:
I make an impact and help other people by (fill in your purpose here).
What in the world are you doing?
If you want to be successful, you need to be able to answer that by describing how you help others. Because if you aren’t helping others—if you aren’t making an impact—you are just taking up space, eating food and waiting to die.
Here’s the question for you to answer this week and what to do with your answer: What in the world are you doing?
If you know, then you are good to go—live it and make an impact!
If you don’t know, then maybe you need to reflect on what you are doing, what your life is about, and how you can explode the mundane bubble you may be living in.
The world needs impact makers—so live to be one!