How to Build a Legacy

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”Ralph Waldo Emerson

Small things often yield big results.

The story is told of a woman whose husband had died and she had no children.

Despite the ignominy of being a widow, and barren, an apparent statement by God that she was undeserving of His bounty;

Despite the pains of hunger and being shunned by her community;

She loved God and desired to give Him a gift, the best gift she could. Only the best gift would satisfy her longing to show God how much she loved Him.

With great difficulty she went without essentials of life and over time managed to save 2 mites.

Two of the smallest coin denominations in the country. $0.02 in today’s currency.

She would take her offering to the church, she resolved. That, she had been taught, was the most direct way to give to God.

But, what could a large church possibly do with two cents?

Nothing in the services or maintenance of the church could be paid for with that pittance.

But her act of sneaking those two coins into the offering plate was noticed.

Jesus noted that “no one has given more” and made sure her legacy of devotion to God and of unselfish benevolence was preserved for all future generations.

From this story we can learn a lot about legacy. It shows us that we should:

Use what you have to quietly give joyfully, in small opportunities,

because you desire to make a difference.

The dictionary would define Legacy as a gift or a bequest, that is handed down, endowed or conveyed from one personto another. It is something that one comes into possession of that is transmitted, inherited, or received from a predecessor. It could be a memory or a family history.

Common examples of legacy are:

  • She left us a legacy of a million dollars.
  • He left his children a legacy of love and respect.
  • The war left a legacy of pain and suffering.
  • The legacy of his example shows us what is most important in life.
  • Her artistic legacy lives on through her children.

Know What Matters

To start purposefully working on your legacy, use the following questions. Think about and answer them honestly to discover a legacy that matters and endures.

1) What is the most important need that my family has right now?

2) What is the most important need that my business has right now?

3) What am I doing when I am the happiest or most content?

4) If I could snap my fingers and acquire a strength or talent, it would be ___________ because ___________ .

5) Twenty-five years after my death, what will I be remembered for? By my family? By others?

6) If I were required to give everything I own to a cause (not a person), what cause would that be?

These questions may sound simple, but each question should be given much thought. You might have to think about them for days before really knowing the answers.

Building a Positive Legacy

5 Steps to Building a Positive Legacy

1) Be Joyful in What You Can Do

2) Focus Your Efforts in Your Known Talents, Strengths

3) Drill Down to What Matters Now

4) Look for Small Opportunities to Do

5) Make a Difference Through Service

Comments on the 5 Steps

1) Joyful is contagious. Those you are serving will be positively affected just by your Joy. Since Joy is somewhat rare, you will be memorable.

2) Applying the talents and strengths that you already have means you can start now to build your legacy – or modify the one that you accidentally began. You are more likely to follow through in your efforts when doing what comes easily.

3) Be sure that your efforts are centered in What Matters Now. Your family deserves your best you. Zero in on Now, not ten years from now.

4) Small opportunities are often overlooked or considered unimportant. But small opportunities well done open the way for more and bigger.

5) Helping others builds them up, and there is no better difference you can make than that. In the eyes of those you serve you will be a hero, and your legacy will be secure.

Stumbling Blocks to a Positive Legacy

Being Unsure of what you want to accomplish scatters your efforts.

Trying to please others focusing on what matters to them.

Bitterness will overwhelm Joy.

Everyone leaves a legacy.

The important questions to ask are:

1. Will my legacy be intentional or accidental?

2. Will my legacy be positive or negative?


Comments are welcome – even invited.