Sunday, January 24, 2010

For MEN Only : What will be Your LEGACY ?

Sunset at Edisto Beach, SC

This may be an odd topic for a woman to write about , but it is something that has ' hit ' me when my husband came home about a year ago and said it was a topic of a Men's study series he was taking at church. One of the very few times I saw him get choked up, as it is truly a BIGGIE for men's souls. 
We have 4 children , 3 grown and out on their own and a late blessing , a little rowdy boy still at home with us. The topic in his study at church was, What will you leave behind of your life ? What will you teach your children ? What kind of example of marriage will you leave  them with ? Of your work ethic ?
What will they have , deep in their hearts and souls, part of pass on to their children ?
What will be YOUR legacy ? 

Here in America, most men are struggling simply with either keeping their head and house above water...or working so hard to keep up with whomever they think they need to one-up, that they are confusing their net worth with their worth to their God and their families.
Children have become too big of the focal point in most marriages that they eclipse most people's relationship with their spouse . The children's accomplishments and even their myriad of problems can suck the vitality out of the first priority God wants us to focus on, after our relationship with Him, is our relationship with our spouse.
Your wife is a gift from God.
So the first component of a man's legacy is the example of love and commitment he displays through good and especially bad times with his wife. Your children , your neighbors, your extended family, your co-workers and your friends, all watch how you treat your wife. How you talk about her when she is not around. What you look at when she is not around.
People notice, your children notice...and that example will be a big part of the legacy you leave one day.
The words , the actions, the gifts you give to her will guide your children in how to treat their wife or how a woman expects to be treated by a man.

Another component is what kind of father were ( are ) you ? The biggest example you have to look to is God, as He is all loving, forgiving , teaches us what is right and what is wrong,  and let's us learn from our mistakes...without always rescuing us right away. A Father needs to teach his children how to TAKE CARE of themselves , teach them how to do a task correctly...not perfectly, but to the best of THEIR ability. Don't be too hard on them when they are young , but also teach them responsibility.
We had 4 children , as I mentioned earlier, and probably the biggest benefit they received is us insisting they get a  PART-TIME JOB by the time they were 15. They did baby-sitting before that age, but afterward, they all were employed somewhere. It makes them accountable for their time, accountable for their money, and promotes personal responsibility.
Teach them to get to work on time, to dress appropriately, to be polite and  respectful of their bosses.
Then step back and let them succeed or fail at that job..on their own.
If they lose a job, and they will....ask them what they learned and tell them to get another job.
They eventually will figure out this is how the real world is.
You as Fathers will not be around forever, but your work ethic and balance of work and family will teach them how to be successful in whatever they do.
Daddy constantly paying for everything in a child's or young adult's life is a growth-inhibitor for their success. I have not known ANY really successful man ( or woman ), that did not have a job when they were still a teenager.

Another component of your legacy is a real biggie. So big it appears to scare most men , because I can honestly say I do not see this very much...even in  church.
Ready ?
Being the Spiritual leader in your home. Talking about God with your children, your wife, and finding a house of worship for your family. Not being the one that your wife has to drag to church, not being the one that rarely if ever mentions what God says to do in a situation in life . Buy a Bible , let your wife and children see you read it . Being the moral compass in today's world for your children, is getting harder and harder...every year.
Be discerning with what you allow your children, and yourself , to watch on TV or in the movies. Be discerning with who they hang out with, their language , what they read or what internet sites they post to ( and boy will it shock you what they start posting !).
Express your approval and your disapproval with their moral and ethical decisions..with love.
God can guide and support you here . Show them that God is IMPORTANT to you, and them. Tell them to pray , tell them when God answers your prayers, when God guides you.

Know your moral convictions, know what is right and what is wrong. 
Stand firm and stand STRONG , and teach your children this.
Another component to your legacy is what they see you put ' first '. For alot of men , this is work. Men need work, God made you to desire to work, to accomplish for your family . The problem with work today , is not simply that men are working to pay bills, but many are working to pad their egos. Women also do this, I know I did when I sold Real Estate many years ago.
The problem is all that time you devote for work , means less time for God and your family.
Balance your desire for work , with your desire for God and your family.
Your children will grow up in the blink of an eye, I can attest  to that unequivocally. They need you NOW, to support, encourage, and love is the paramount quality of your legacy.

Your legacy, what is left of YOU when you are gone , should be rich with respect for God, love and respect for your wife, being a good steward of the money God showed you how to earn or blessed you with the ability to make, rich with love and encouraging words for your children ,and gratitude to God for how He has blessed you.
Speak these words to your family, don't simply be a silent witness with your actions.
Speak your love , demonstrate your love ...daily.
None of us knows how long we will be on this earth. That is a fact that becomes very hard and clear as we age.
But that fact alone can cause men to consider what legacy they want to leave their children...and the clearest way to do this is through the channel of love.
Look at your life backwards, and see where you want to end up.
Know that you can be one of the biggest blessings God ever gave to your children.
They will want to walk in your footsteps.
Stand Strong.

Bless you,

" Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, having done all, to stand. " Ephesians 6:13

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