How Will You Be Remembered?
- Cliff Young Contributing Writer
- 2007 2 May
As another birthday passes and the candles on my cake resemble a small grease fire on the stove, it’s hard not to wonder what tomorrow (and the Lord) holds for me.
I personally struggle with questions about what I’ve been able to accomplish, who I’ve been able to impact, and whether or not my life has been a “success.” I speculate where I may be in five or ten years, whether I’ll have a family or not, and what my life may be like.
I think about the many people who have been in my life and have since passed on – my father, my brother’s father-in-law, my grandparents, my aunt, a former roommate, friends, instructors, former classmates. I recall things that we did together, discussions that we had, and lessons that they taught me. I remember them most for the blessings that they’ve been to me.
With these questions and thoughts, I have to ask myself, “What will I be remembered for?” “What kind of legacy will I leave behind?” “Do I even matter?”
Some people these days seem to strive for that “memorable moment” through outrageous behavior, verbal statements, or “reality show” experience. It seems that musicians, athletes, and actors have become influential role models whom people are emulating in their dress, action and personality. In many ways, it appears that society has lost its focus and its way.
We would all do well to look toward the examples of some of the "major palyers" in the Bible, who I have to believe had similar questions and struggles during their lifetimes:
- Moses – led his people out of Egypt, wandered in the desert for forty years, and then received his personal commission from God.
- Joseph – thrown into a ditch by family, left for dead, but became the second most powerful man in Egypt.
- David – born deficient in size, but slain the giant Goliath, confronted by sin, confessed, humbled himself, and led a nation.
- Solomon – a man of honor and riches, contributed to the destruction of a nation, but left us with a book of wisdom.
All of these men exhibited determination, belief in God, and faith, but in some ways it’s difficult for me to relate to them personally. Their callings and personas are greater than anything that I could ever imagine. Even though they were humbled at different periods in their lifetimes, by challenges and sins that are common to all of us, they seem to be larger than life.
I identify with the more “down to earth” characters in the Bible, those who don't have chapters written about them, those who probably don’t have any major monuments honoring them, those who just listened and followed the Lord. I have always liked these “behind the scenes” type of guys, the underdogs in some ways, because that’s who I relate to, and whose qualities I admire.
- Phillip (the evangelist) – eager to share the gospel (with an Ethiopian eunuch) – Acts 8:26-40
- Boaz – successful businessman, generous and compassionate (to the servant girl) Ruth – Ruth 3
- Elisha – a good friend, student and servant (to Elijah) – 2 Kings 2
- Joseph of Arimathea – caretaker (of Jesus’ body) – Luke 23:50-5)
- Andrew, Bartholomew, Philip – disciples (of Jesus) – Mark 4:18
A few things can be said about these men: they were obedient, they followed the Lord, they loved people around them and they didn’t look for any recognition or personal gain. Whether married or single, they didn't seem to let that become an issue in their service to Christ.
But with the consistent themes throughout the Bible of family, family lines, father-son relationships, family curses, legacies, etc., I must admit that sometimes I feel, as a single adult (without children), that my life hasn’t begun and won’t matter until I marry. And you know what? That has to be the biggest lie that the enemy is trying to get me to believe. Marital status has nothing to do with God’s ability to use you and me and to impact people.
Nichole Nordeman talks about making an impact like this in the chorus of her song, "Legacy" –
I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
A legacy is all about relationships. It starts with our relationship with God, then with our family, then with our church family, and then with people throughout the world. THAT is our calling. THAT is where we need to be investing our time right now rather than worrying about something down the road that may or may not happen. THAT is the question we should all be asking ourselves each and every day.
Am I choosing to love others? Am I pointing others to the Lord? Am I living every day in a manner that exemplifies Christ?
Sure, I have the same “what ifs” as many singles do: “What if I don’t marry?” “What if I never have kids?” “What if I don’t have a big house?” “What if I end up old and alone?”
"I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him." – Philippians 3:7-9
We can spend our time worrying about things that may or may not happen, or we can utilize our time to make things happen. We can choose to love and to share Christ during our lifetime or live our lives only for ourselves.
"My future is in your hands." – Psalm 31:15
"Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us." – Colossians 3:11
For me, I don’t need to be known for a reality show moment, some newsworthy story, some amazing statistic or even having an incredible family. I just want to be remembered as a faithful servant of God who chose to love others, share Jesus’ love and lived a life of excellence. That is what I want for my legacy.
What will yours be?
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to "Sandlot Stories" (ARose Books). An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to [email protected].