by Mike Kasdorf
"Some legends are told
Some turn to dust or to gold
But you will remember me;
Remember me, for centuries." (Fall Out Boy)
"Pele doesn't die. Pele will never die. Pele will go on forever." (Pele)
The older I get, the more I wonder if what I’m doing with my life is making any difference in the world. Am I contributing anything meaningful? What kind of legacy am I leaving? We all want to feel as though our lives have had a positive impact. However, we can often confuse the healthy desire to leave a positive legacy with a desire to pursue personal significance through long-lasting recognition.
This very human desire is seen through media all the time. Reality TV offers up 15 minutes (perhaps closer to 15 seconds) of fame in each new season of prime time. There are a plethora of self-promoting authors, bloggers, and life-coach gurus offering direction to anyone who’ll listen.
We excel at comparing ourselves to others. When I think about people of legacy and contribution, some of the great pioneers and inventors of history come to mind. Folks like Leonardo da Vinci, Marie Curie, Johannes Gutenberg, Amelia Earhart, Galileo Galilei, Wolfgang Mozart, Steve Jobs, Jane Austen, and Plato. I wonder, who am I in comparison?
Indeed, for every one of 'the greats,' there have been countless others in the same fields of work who have remained unnamed. People just like you and me. I bet that many were really smart, creative, had good ideas, and accomplished some great things. We just don’t know who they are. Their legacy is not broadcast through popularity and prestige. Their quiet, humble, and faithful work goes unheralded by the world.
I recently stumbled across some commentary on scripture’s genealogies, particularly in Matthew 1 and Genesis 5. God showed me through these scriptures and commentaries that the men and women in these genealogies are, in large part, remembered for their faithfulness and devotion to God. Aside from some of the most notable individuals, little or nothing is said of their professional accomplishments or contributions to society. Rather, the fact that each of them raised at least one son or daughter who maintained a life of faithfulness to God IS their contribution to society. Their legacy.
Imagine what our communities and countries would look like if the foremost pursuit of men and women was to instill an attitude of faithfulness and trust in God in the next generation? What would it look like if we all sought “the fear of the Lord…and knowledge of the Holy One (Prov. 9:10)” as our top priority and raised our children to do the same? What if our hearts and minds were focused on the eternal, rather than attaining what is only temporal?
There will come a day when the greatest paintings, writings, devices, compositions, ideas, and innovations – and the people who created them – will be gone and forgotten. Nobody is going to remember Fall Out Boy in 100 years. Pele might be the greatest soccer player in history, but he’ll die. Their names are written in history books of a world that is wasting away. But there is another book – not a history book but a future book. The Bible refers to it as the Book of Life – the book of those who "fear the Lord and esteem his name" (Mal. 3:16).
We all have a choice to make. Which book will you seek to write your legacy in?