Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines the word legacy as “a bequest, a particular thing, a certain sum of money given by last will or testament; good counsel left by a father or parent to a child.”
With all five of us children at home, our parents lived in a plain, modest ranch house; nothing large or fancy by any means. Even though the church parsonage was within walking distance to our church, my parents were always assigned the task to host evangelists at our house, causing us to sleep on couches so that the evangelists could have a room to themselves. My mother did their laundry, if needed, cooked and cleaned while we were at school.
During the mornings, before we left for school, the visiting evangelists would pray protection and encouragement over our day. (These were the days when country churches would have one- or two-week revival services.) As a result of these yearly experiences with traveling evangelists, all five of us became involved in various ministry programs in our own churches.
In Proverbs 4, the writer, King Solomon, gives instruction to his son as if he is leaving special guidance to ensure that his son’s future would be full of favor and blessings. Verses 10 and following read, ”Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.”
As my parents were given the task to entertain evangelists, I never heard them complain. They modeled respect for ministers, generosity with providing meals and housing and evening stories about missions and ministries that always fascinated my imagination.
From his book The Total Family, Ed Henson made several observations about parents passing down bits of wisdom to their own children:
1. If you want your child to be a spiritual giant, you must lead the way.
2. If you want your child to be dependable and consistent, you must lead the way by example.
3. If you want your child to surround himself with spiritually minded friends, then you must surround yourself with spiritually minded friends.
When King Solomon was writing the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, he was conveying bits of wisdom to the younger generation, which included:
1. Listen to teachings about the fear of the Lord.
2. Love wisdom.
3. Seek wisdom.
4. Put away evil.
5. Remove sorrow that comes from making bad decisions.
6. Remember God in your youth.
7. God will bring everyone into judgment, so seek the way of truth and right.
With that particular type of legacy in mind, notice that King Solomon never mentioned any of the following:
1. Obtain riches any way that you can.
2. Horde what you have from others.
With that thought in mind, my parents were never wealthy. They grew up during the Great Depression and had to learn to live without a lot of conveniences that we take for granted today. Before we left for college, they gave us their own version of wisdom for us to follow:
1. Guard your reputation carefully because you can lose it within a short amount of time.
2. Always remember that there will be others who are in worse condition that you are.
3. When you start your career, save some, spend wisely and give to those in need so that you will always have funds in your account.
During this month, my goal in these columns is to use Biblical characters to show how the older generation left legacies for the younger generation and what was taught and learned.
”Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many;” Proverbs 4:10