In a recent men’s group at my church we were discussing death and the legacy we each will leave behind. We all agreed that the ”stuff'” we leave behind will not be nearly as important as our “relational” legacy. How will we be remembered as a “godly man.” Why is it harder to leave behind a godly relational legacy, that is, how we are remembered for our relationship with others? Because cultivating a relational legacy demands more from men then they can produce on their own. We are dependent upon God to work through us. It calls for a love, that is self giving even when the relationships can be difficult. Remember Paul’s words, “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (I Cor 13:3)
A legacy describes the way a man is honored. We read in Proverbs 18:12 in the Message, “Pride first, then the crash, but humility is precursor to honor.” Proverbs 29:23 reminds us, “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” I have conducted many funerals during my ministry. I can say with some confidence, that a man is honored not so much for his accomplishments, but rather by the way he related to others, especially his family. Few things in my ministry motivated me more then the memory of a godly man honored by his family for how he lived. It gave me godly resolve to work on my relationships. It seems, men, that if we want to be honored by other when they have our funeral, humility will have to be displayed in our relationships.
How is humility expressed in our relationships? Here are some suggestions from a man, attempting to leave a healthy relational legacy. First and foremost, I have given my heart to Jesus. This means he is reconstructing me so that I might relate more humbly and lovingly. Second I know I have to give priority to having good relationship with those in my “circle of influence.” Third, I am asking Jesus to help me to learn from my relational failures. Fourth, I pray continually that I will have the grace to put others before myself. Fifthly, I pray that I can learn from the difficult relationship God has brought into my life. Sixth, I pray that I can live in a spirit of forgiveness, while keeping my heart open to relational wounds.
I close with this caution. Every man who is reading this blog will have to deal with failure when he looks back into his story. You will not be looking at the “perfect” legacy. This is where humility plays a vital factor in your legacy. Where you have knowingly failed in your relationships, humbly seek forgiveness. You cannot rewrite the script of your story. But through forgiveness God can take your story and rewrite the script for you. Men, I cannot stress how important it is to live a lifestyle of forgiveness. “Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it” (Col. 3:13-14 – Message).