I must admit that with each passing year, I spend a little more time pondering the legacy I will leave my children. My focus on this subject becomes sharper each Father’s Day.
I realize the day will come when my family will stand around a grave as they lower my mortal remains into the ground. They will then go back to the church, eat some ham and potato salad and hopefully talk about dear old Dad and Grandpa (at least I hope to live that long). What will they have to say?
As a pastor, I have sat with many families during these discussions. Tragically, some of them struggle to recall even one good memory. In fact, sometimes those occasions are stone quiet. The family barely hangs together long enough to get through the funeral. It may be because dad abandoned them for another woman. Or he had focused on work so much that he invested very little in their lives. Sometimes, the hushed discussion is only about who will get what because dad was successful in the world but flopped as a dad. Other times, it is angry talk.
These are undoubtedly not the scenarios that you hope will occur among your offspring. It is not what I want to happen when I die. The truth is that, every day, dads are writing the script for that discussion after the funeral. Moment by moment and day by day, we are leaving our imprints upon the children God has given us. While some of the shaping takes place through life’s big events, most of the imprinting of our children happens in our normal, daily traffic patterns.
Some men hope their children will talk about their successes or financial prowess. Not me. I am thankful for whatever things God has been able to accomplish through me. It is not my goal for my name to be written down in a history book somewhere. No-I want my children to remember me for the quality of my character and faith and the love I have demonstrated.
I hope the discussion during the ham and potato salad will be about Dad’s love and faith in God. I can think of nothing more important than for my family to know that I had a strong and abiding relationship with the Lord God of the universe through His Son Jesus. I don’t want them to try to talk me into Heaven, but to know by the testimony of my lips and the demonstration of my life that I have a Savior and Heaven is my home.
I hope they will talk about my integrity. Hopefully, they will have been marked by my determination to stand for the truth, speak the truth and live the truth in every situation. I want them to be able to say my walk matched my talk. We live in a world of broken promises and unfulfilled commitments. This dad wants to leave a legacy of absolute integrity where nothing is hidden under the rug.
I hope my family will talk about my unconditional love for them. Many dads have a moment when they wish their child had a different last name. Children, young and old, can disappoint, break their parents’ hearts and hurt them deeply. But every child, no matter what age, needs to know without question that there will never come a time when love will be suspended-that nothing they can do will ever remove dad’s love. I want my children to talk about the security they felt because I loved them with an unfailing love.
So Dad, what will be said about you over ham and potato salad after the lid is closed on your casket? What they will say is being shaped today. Happy Father’s Day!