By Dr. John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
When people think back on your life, what do they remember? What lasting legacy are you leaving?
Many people will be remembered for different things. James Henry Smith was a zealous Pittsburgh Steelers fan. But before he died of prostate cancer at age 55, he outlined specifically how he wanted to be remembered.
When he died, Smith’s body was placed in his recliner, his feet crossed and a remote in his hand. He wore black and gold silk pajamas, slippers and a robe. Cigarettes and beer were at his side, and a high-definition TV played a continuous loop of Steelers’ highlights. Friends at the viewing said it depicted him exactly as he was in life. That is a unique legacy – but pitiful.
Jack Reynolds is from northern England. He celebrated his 105th birthday in April 2017. He wanted to ride a roller coaster and be remembered as the oldest person ever to ride a roller coaster. He had a sweatshirt printed which said, “It’s my party and I’ll scream if I want to.”
Jack actually changed his idea of how he wanted to be remembered. At 104, he got a tattoo. At that time he wanted to be remembered as the oldest man ever to get a tattoo. That’s a unique legacy – but pitiful.
Some people live their whole life and never do anything significant. Leslie Ray “Popeye” Charping of Galveston, Texas, died of cancer at age 75. I doubt he’ll be missed by many people because his family wrote an on-line obituary that said he “lived 29 years longer than expected and much longer than he deserved.” His family wrote that his hobbies were “being abusive to his family . . . and fishing,” and his life “served no obvious purpose.” What a sad commentary on a person’s life.
We don’t know how many days we have to live. Some have a few days, some have many more. Each of us is making a legacy to leave. Each of us is doing things for which we will be remembered. It’s a good thing to stop and ask ourselves, “How will folks remember me?”
We remember Judas because he betrayed Jesus. We remember King Agrippa because he was almost persuaded to be a Christian. We remember Herod’s daughter because she was responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist. We remember Lot’s wife because she disobeyed God. History is filled with people who left bad legacies.
There are also people who left great legacies. We remember Moses because he obeyed God and led His people through the Red Sea. We remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego because they obeyed God, and He delivered them from the fiery furnace. We remember Enoch because he walked with God. We remember Esther because she confronted the king and saved her people. We remember Dorcas because she was full of good works. We remember Peter because of his powerful preaching at Pentecost.
We remember Paul because he fought a good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith. We remember the woman who bought the most expensive perfume and used it to wash the feet of Jesus. We remember a poor woman because she gave what was the smallest amount to others but turned out to be the biggest amount to God because it was everything she had.
We remember Jesus because He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death for us, rose from the grave on the third day, and is alive today. We remember Him today because He ascended into Heaven and promised that He would return. His legacy lasts forever and ever and ever.
How will you be remembered? What is your LQ – Legacy Quotient?