This past week I drove 1,425 miles to attend the memorial service for a dear friend. I would have driven 4,000 if I’d had to, it was that important. During the service, everyone who stood up to speak talked about love, service, generosity, faithfulness, and—most importantly—how those qualities also became transformationally evident in the lives my friend had influenced. Family, friends, colleagues, members of the faith community—it was the same message, over and over.
Later, during the reception, a man sidled up to me and said, “That was so powerful! When I die, I want the same service; the same Scriptures, the same words, the same message.” Without skipping a beat, I turned to him and said, “If you want a great memorial service, first you have to live a great life.”
Rather than stumbling through life one bump at a time, think about leaving a legacy today. Here are 5 reasons why it is so important to start now.
1. Taking inventory regarding what will be important (then) helps us decide what counts now.
When we’re so consumed by our next step (paying bills, getting the kids to school, cleaning the kitchen, doing a thousand household tasks…), it’s hard to think beyond the moment. Taking the time to frame moving forward in the context of looking back offers perspective.
2. Looking ahead opens up questions guys often avoid thinking about.
We’re talking about making a Will. Wherever we are in life, it’s always prudent to have up-to-date documentation regarding the part of our legacy we can directly control. Thinking about our legacy encourages us to work out a long-term plan.
3. If – God forbid – you passed away sooner rather than later, would your family be provided for?
If you can’t answer the question, that’s another legacy topic to discuss with your family. Love must look into the future. Be specific. Check your life insurance policy and make sure it fits the needs of your family now (not when you first set it up). Are your accounts easily accessible to your spouse (passwords, signature, etc.)? Are there financial irregularities you’ve been keeping a secret? Is there “stuff” you probably should deal with now? Are you vested in a nurturing faith community where you know your loved ones will be taken care of? Your children’s future may be the best reason to take a look at your future.
4. You’ve still got time to make the next few decades count.
Thinking about our legacy can be a call to arms for the present. There’s not a single person on the face of this good earth who was created without an important purpose in mind. Now is a great time to take stock of what’s really important.
5. There’s nothing like the idea of mortality to bring life today into clearer focus.
Whatever you think about ideas such as faith, heaven, and eternity, the fact of mortality casts a unique light on the beautiful clarity of the life we experience today.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “What legacy do you see me leaving?”