leaving a legacy

5 Reasons You Need to Think Ahead

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 became transformationally evident in the lives my friend had influenced. Family, friends, colleagues, members of the faith community all proved it: Our friend was leaving a legacy.

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 scripture readings, the same words, the same message.” 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 you need to think ahead.

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. But deciding what will be important for your family in the future will determine what’s important for you to do today.

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 ahead in this way about your legacy encourages you to set a long-term plan in stone.

3. If, God forbid, you die sooner rather than later, will your family be provided for?

If the answer is no or you’re not sure, make changes today. 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 beneficiaries (or the adults who’ll handle that for them if your beneficiaries are your kids)? Are there financial problems 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.

There’s not a single person on the face of this good earth who was created without an important purpose.

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. 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, your mortality casts a unique light on the beautiful clarity of the life we experience today. Use it wisely.

Sound off: What legacy do you most hope to leave for your kids?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is your biggest dream or goal?”