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Parents, What Will Your Legacy Be?

by Stephen Davey

A popular series of commercials feature young people who are— rather humorously—turning into their parents. The premise for these advertisements is the fact that when young people buy a home, they inevitably begin acting like their parents. 

For instance, a young woman starts collecting ceramic gnomes in her front yard, while another young person becomes frustrated with the technology of their smart phone. A young man starts talking to random strangers at the hardware store while another young person begins collecting and reading books about submarines. When asked why, he simply responds, “My dad reads them.” 

I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with collecting gnomes or reading books about submarines; however, these humorous commercials highlight the simple truth that many of the things we do mirror the legacy passed down to us from our parents. 

It’s true, isn’t it? We become like our parents in more ways than one. It might be a habit, a value, a character trait or even a decorating pattern for the kitchen. 

The truth is, children not only mimic quirky habits and repeat the same idioms as their parents, they grow up to hold similar traits, pursue similar interests, and model similar character traits. For parents—especially fathers—considering the legacy we leave our children is worthy of significant reflection. 

Merriam Webster defines legacy as “something received from an ancestor.” His definition includes those attributes for which we will be remembered. When it comes to a legacy, Webster wasn’t just thinking about real estate or trust funds; he was thinking about the things in life that we find important, those things for which we will be remembered. 

For instance, if you constantly talk to your family about material possessions, that will be your legacy. Your children will remember you as a materialistic person. 

If you never spent much time at home because your career mattered most to you, your children will remember you in that way, someone who’s true passion in life was climbing the ladder. 

The truth is, long after you’re gone, your children will never reflect with gratitude that you were rich, or busy with climbing the career ladder. No one ever dies with the thought on their mind, “I wish I’d spent more time in the office.” 

I remember one woman writing near the end of her life that she wished she’d burned that special candle shaped like a rose and used her best silverware and settings for ordinary meals. 

No child will ever eulogize their father for being well dressed or driving new cars or having the best golf game in town. 

The truth is, we shape our legacy every single day—in big and small ways. Children will remember you teaching them to fish, throw a baseball or build a table out of reclaimed wood. Grandchildren will remember the time you spent listening to their dreams and encouraging them during days of disappointment. 

When it comes to leaving a legacy as a faithful dad, the Bible is filled with some wonderful examples. We can recall the faithful love and forgiveness of the prodigal’s father, who welcomed his son back from his wandering and wicked lifestyle. 

There are plenty of poor examples in the Bible as well—from Eli’s unwillingness to discipline his immoral sons to Jacob’s preferential treatment of Joseph that brought division and jealousy among his many sons. 

There are a number of examples in the Bible where fathers acted both faithfully and sinfully. I think of Abraham, who raised up a godly nation through his son Isaac, but also sparked thousands of years of conflict through his sin of fathering Ishmael through his wife’s handmaiden, Hagar. 

I think of David, who raised up a great kingdom and diligently sought to teach his children to love the Lord, but whose polygamy sparked an intrafamily political drama, filled with rape, murder and treason. 

These examples exist as both a challenge and an encouragement for every father today. The challenge is to do our best to honor God as we demonstrate a legacy of godliness. The encouragement is in remembering that God forgives us when we fail. 

I want to provide both a challenge and an encouragement as we explore the life of one godly father—Enoch. In just three short verses, God delivers a volume for us on the subject of leaving a godly legacy. I trust you’ll be encouraged to consider your own legacy carefully, cultivate it wisely, and protect it passionately. 

Your legacy matters, and with the Lord’s help, you can build a godly legacy worth remembering. 

Add a Comment


Greg hartline says:
My dad was very stern at discipline, but he loved the Lord. I’m 62. I grew up when things were that way, but I’m thankful my dad was hard on me. It taught me that life is tough but God is always there even when we don’t feel like He is my mom is still with me she loves the Lord and pointed me to Jesus thanks love your ministry
Tena says:
Growing up, we were taught good work ethics and we worked together as a family on a farm. In later years, while taking care of my father, I often saw him sitting with His open Bible. My parents loved the Lord and we had daily family devotions.
Alice says:
My Mother epitomized the life of a godly woman. Eleven children, a drinking husband that would go pull her out of a church service; yet she never never faltered in her christian faith. I know he loved my Mom and he became debilated in later years. She spoon fed him for 8 years before he passed. She diligently served her family and her husband. On top of that she served in several positions in the church. We were the poorest in the neighborhood, but neighbors looked up to her and she fed the neighborhood children who dropped by without complaining. She tithed until the end so we lacked for nothing. My Mom is the holiest person I have ever known. That is the legacy she left to her 134 descendants, friends and all who knew her. I strive everyday because God gave me a great gift to follow.
Jay G Smith says:
I'm thankful that my parents brought me up believing there was a God who was involved in our affairs.
Justin Eubanks says:
Where to begin. By all accounts society would have deemed me to be successful just two short years ago. A perfect family, a military career, a college graduate, and health and prosperity. What lay hidden for many years or secretly built walls born out of some pain from childhood. I lived as a Chamaeleon and pushed away from the people who loved me most. Pride, selfishness, lust, addiction all hidden underneath a false exterior. After attending church and hearing a sermon that came with a warning label, began a long and painful spiritual and mental health journey that I am still on. The warning was about a prayer: “Lord search my heart, break my prideful, selfish spirit and use me for your Kingdom. And boy did He answer! I have so hurt the people that I love but I know that this journey had to take place. Now, facing the loss of everything I am striving to keep faith and thank God for his mercy and love and to put away fear and anxiety. I think God that my conscience hurt enough to lead me to that prayer. I think God that I had not become so hopeless but my soul was past feelings of remorse. In the midst of this trial somehow I know that God has a purpose for me. A small voice keeps telling me that I need to help those that are hurting. Help men learn from my mistakes and avoid the lies of this world. God help me I want a purpose driven life. God help me I want to pour into my children and teach them from my mistakes. I only want to remove all of me so that Christ can shine through. I cares now so little for all of the things that I used to value. I pray daily for courage, contentment, peace, perseverance, and wisdom. Your ministry Dr. Davey has been a blessing to me on this journey. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to Christ. If the opportunity ever presented itself, I would love to meet you in person and shake your hand. I do not know where God believe me I pray only that I have the courage to follow. May God bless you. Justin
Timothy Amoroso says:
My dad was an athlete. He was a football player in high school. He was a running back. He was strong and solid and quick. When he was alive, and I excelled on sports, I felt I honored my father. But the key to excelling in sports is Jesus. The key in sports as in everything we do in life is clinging to the truth that Jesus is with us for ever. My knowledge of the Lord Jesus came from my mother. She taught us to love God from an early age. But my dad's catholic views tended to conflict with my mom's love for Jesus. They often fought with each other over these views. This caused division for my siblings and I growing up. I believe the Lord took my dad home to be with Him. Before he died, I shared the Lord Jesus with my dad. He assured me that he trusted in the Lord as Savior. So I trust that the Lord took my dad home with Him. My dad died at 66 years old. My dad would still be alive today if he lived his full life and would have been able to meet his grand kids.
Cynthia Buckner says:
Yes, they did but unfortunately it wasn’t Godly as we were being raised, my grand mother was the one who did it for me, a legacy of loving and serving God and people
Linda Tyler says:
My mother died when I was twelve, but her strong faith and trust in God’s Love for her and her children allowed her a peaceful death after an agonizing two years of fighting cancer. Her faith and trust in God was a constant in my life which was suddenly very unreliable in terms of love and security. Because she believed and lived that faith, it set the example and patterns for my own life. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but never did I lose sight of God’s Love for me. My mother taught me through her own faith that God would never leave or forsake me. At age 65, that truth is still a constant comfort in my life and I praise God for giving me a mother whose life was a living testimony….those 12 years with her were the guideposts of my life.
Bonnie says:
My dad who has been in heaven for over 23 years now, left a Godly legacy to an entire family. It started when he would gather the five of us around the dinner table each evening and read the Bible. He would then explain the passage and answered our questions. He took us to church each Sunday and we knew he loved his God. As we left the house and married and had children of our own, we passed the legacy to them. Because of his love for the Lord, sons-in-laws and great, great grand children have accepted Jesus as their savior. He was not great in the eyes of man, but he left a legacy that is still at work today!
Kay Pruitt says:
My Mother and Father both directed me to listen to God for what He wanted me to do. I didn’t listen of course, until I was a lot older. Now I listen very cautiously.
Kelly Bartol says:
My dad would take me fishing if I picked the worms the night before and was always there for me in times of trouble. He was always a peacekeeper in our house.
Cynthia Thomas says:
My parents both lived into their 90s. While in there 80s, they were still looking for ways to serve the Lord. They would spend their Sunday afternoons visiting church members who were in the hospital or nursing homes. They said they liked to visit the “old people” most of whom were actually younger than my parents. Their legacy of serving was passed on to my husband and I who are both in our miid 70s. By God’s grace, we hope to serve Him for as long as He gives us strength.
Ginger Chesser says:
My Dad taught me to work hard and my Mother taught me kindness and gentleness. Both things have helped me be the person I am.
Nancy Evdoxiadis says:
I have spent some time thinking about this and have talked with one of my sisters. Up to a certain time in our family’s history we had memories of significant impacts of both parents; however, after a crisis the memories were mostly negative. Nevertheless, my father was the one who made sure we got to church. On Saturday night I remember how he would polish our shoes and have them lined up in front of the sofa. In the past several years as I have come to realize how few children in our country are now being raised in a healthy church environment with a strong Biblical worldview, I am so grateful for the quality of the Christian education program. which was provided for me; also our church was the center of our social life where Dad was a Deacon and a well respected Boy Scout leader. I looked forward to church time for learning, service and worship. God’s word was hidden in my heart, I believed that Jesus loved me. When I was about 15 my father was discovered in an adulterous affair, lost his reputation and positions of leadership, became an alcoholic and physically abusive. I lost confidence in the truth of what I had learned and the fellowship of church congregations. During the next fifteen years I went through intense searching for truth in philosophy, psychology and government. The LORD continued to pursue and teach me i until at 30 years old, I walked into a healthy, Bible teaching church where the pastor was teaching an 8 week series entitled Principles of Christian Living. By the fourth week I realized that what I hearing was truth, went home , went into a bedroom of the house in which I had grown up, got a legal pad on which I wrote every sin I could remember got on my knees, confessed in repentance , asked the LORD for forgiveness and asked Him to make me into the type of woman He wanted me to be, God’s word became total truth for me and my goal has been, in love and gratitude, to learn to apply it in love and obedience..His mercy has made me His own. Like the blind man in Mark 8:22-26 I needed a second touch. I tried to turn in my Chaplains badge and thought I must have been mistaken that I was truly God’s child. Once again He would not let me go and has brought me through totally impossible and incredible times to a point, at 77 years old, of service and rest. God’s word as ‘a light to my path and a lamp’ unto my feet was my father’s legacy to me. My mother’s legacy was her accepted role as wife and mother. At church she participated by cooking for youth programs and as a Girl Scout leader. She became an excellent seamstress and cook. She demonstrated love for her children and grandchildren by spending time with them, valuing reading and learning by providing books and the reading the newspaper every morning; When I was disabled and homeless. after her husband died, she brought me home in spite of family conflict, legal troubles and medical challenges. At first she demonstrated extraordinary Christian grace and refused to prosecute me legally.