Has there been someone in your life who was an example you want to follow? Or have you ever thought about what kind of legacy you might leave behind?
The person in my life I least wanted to be like, is now the one I most want to emulate.
My mother-in-law is best described as being like Raymond’s mom Maria, in the TV sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond". If you’re not familiar with the show, basically Ray is her beloved son who can do no wrong (my husband). Who is married to Debra (me), who will never measure up in Maria’s eyes. Needless to say my mother-in-law and I didn’t have the best of relationships however, when I looked over her life at her passing, there was something I not only realized I appreciated, but I actually want to follow in my own life.
The one thing that stood out about her, above all else, was her faith in her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. There was never a doubt if anyone in her family was having any difficulties, was traveling, or needed guidance, she was praying. She never shied away from talking about her belief in God or sharing Christian literature with those around her. She also lived a life of service by playing the church piano and organ, as well as being part of a Christian radio station.
She has left a legacy of faith, service, and witnessing. Because of her example, I now want to do the same. Since you’re reading this, I'm thinking you probably want to as well.
So then, how do we do this? How do we leave a legacy of faith for others to follow? I can tell you in the case of my mother-in-law, it wasn’t about being boastful, shoving the gospel in anyone’s face, or trying to pressure someone into believing. It was her passion. It was her unwavering faith in God and belief in His Word. It was her way of life.
Here are a few things I found in Scripture, to help us leave a legacy of faith to our families and others around us.
Be a Light to the World
We live in this world, but we are not of this world. We have the love of Jesus and a hope of the future that those in the world cannot see because they still live in darkness.
“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Walk as children of light—” Ephesians 5:8
We can be a light of hope in a world that has none by encouraging others with a word of truth from Scripture. Or lift someone up by being kind or gracious to them. We can come alongside someone who is hurting by simply praying with them and showing we care. These small acts of kindness speak volumes to a hurting world.
Be an Example
Our lives should portray the changes that Christ has made in us. Not only is it okay to be different than those who are of the world, but Christ calls us to be different. To be an example of Him to those we come in contact with every day.
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
“in all things presenting yourself as an example of good works: in doctrine showing integrity, gravity, incorruptibility,” Titus 2:7
We can and should be an example of faith, purity, and good works. Not just to those at church, but at work, school, on the ball field, and with friends and neighbors. Let your conduct, speech, and integrity reflect that of Christ.
Instead of joining in on the gossip, ridicule, or selfish behavior, choose not to listen to it or participate in the putting down of others. Find ways to think of others and put their needs before your own.
We are bombarded daily with worldly wisdom and desires. People who decide what their own truth is to suit their current needs or trends. Instilling the truth of God’s Word to those closest to us is more important now than ever before.
“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.”Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Share what the Lord has taught you with your children, grandchildren, and those in your circle of influence. Find small ways to point them to the wisdom of God’s Word. Let them know that you are praying for them. Be available when they are hurting or in need of help. When they come to you for advice, share with them wisdom from God’s Word.
Serve the Lord
The Lord has gifted each one of us in one way or another. You may have the gift of hospitality, organizing events, teaching, or caring for little ones. Maybe the Lord has blessed you with the gift of singing, speaking, or leading others in ministry.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 1 Peter 4:10
Use it! It's been given to you for a reason, don’t waste it. Pray that God will show you how He wants you to use your gift for His service. He will certainly honor your prayer and open doors for you to minister to others in some way.
Don’t be surprised if the enemy tries to discourage you as you step out in faith to serve. This is the last thing he wants you to do! Pray and persevere, remembering that your Heavenly Father is in control and He is with you every step of the way.
Nothing happens by chance, especially change. If we don’t make a conscious decision and plan for how we're going to leave the legacy that we want to, it will never happen.
Whenever Christmas or birthdays rolled around, my mother-in-law always seemed to make it a point to give Christian books or games to my kids while they were growing up. In following in her footsteps, I’m now doing the same with my own grandchildren. Now that they are a little older, we’ve started playing bible trivia games together as a family.
Something that our family did when my kids were little, was to hand out Christian stickers, pencils, and erasers with the candy at Halloween. My kids would give some of these items to the houses where they went trick-or-treating as a thank you.
This taught them that a holiday is what you make it and to not be afraid to share their faith with others. Now it’s time to do the same with my grandkids. This year we will be putting Christian stickers with the candy in the plastic eggs for our neighborhood egg hunt.
“When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.” II Timothy 1:5
Portraying a steady prayer life and good devotional study habits will give them a strong biblical base for their future. Not that we want to be boasting about our Christian walk, but be an example of someone who truly lives by faith and trusts in God.
So I’ll ask again; what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? What changes will you make to leave a lasting impression on your family and those around you?
If someone has left a legacy that you strive to emulate or if you have found ways to be an example to others. Please help the rest of us by leaving a comment about what this looks like in your life.
Faith Lived Out
Take some time to think about who is in your circle of influence. Ask God to help you find ways to be a light and hope in their lives.
Do an honest assessment of what kind of an example you are to others. Most likely, there will be areas where you are doing well and some that will need a few changes. That’s okay. None of us are perfect! We are all a work in progress.
Look for ways to share a word of truth or instill solid biblical teaching to family, friends, and neighbors.
What has God gifted you in? Are you using that gift for His glory? If not, pray for your Heavenly Father to open the doors for where He wants you to serve Him.
Be intentional! Make a plan and move forward. You probably won’t be able to go full force on all these areas at once. But you can choose what steps to take today to help you move forward in making a difference.
If you fail, pick yourself up and try again. I’ve wanted to start handing out Christian stickers at Halloween or Easter for the last couple of years. This year I am finally doing it!