“A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when the forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.”– Charles Spurgeon
It’s something that we must all do. Despite how much we want to avoid thinking about it or planning for it, it is inevitable. It’s obvious that it is often not something many of us plan for especially in our community.
All of us must face the fact that we will all die at some point. The Bible tells us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)
My mother reminds me often that just as we plan our lives, we should take responsibility in planning for our deaths as well. I have seen so many families left with the burden of unfinished business, and enormous debt, along with a Pandora’s box of secrets being exposed during the death of a loved one.
We have a responsibility to those we love to make sure that we are not creating additional brokenness financially, spiritually, emotionally, or mentally. It’s critical that we think about the legacy we are leaving behind.
I attended a beautiful homegoing service this past week- end for a friend’s father whose life was a love letter to those he touched. I marveled at listening to family and friends sharing stories about his character.
He was married to his wife for more than 60 years. To listen to his children share about his commitment to their mother and to their family was remarkable.
Repeatedly, the audience was reminded that when you saw Mr. Tatum, you saw his wife—they were two peas in a pod.
One of his grandchildren shared that he asked his grand- father about how to have a great marriage since he was recently engaged. The grandfather in- formed him that his question was inaccurate—he should ask about building his relationship with Christ first which would then impact the man he would become for his wife.
This 89-year-old man not only took his children to church but he lived what he taught. Even as his children had their challenges, they all shared how they came back to their faith because of their father’s teachings, demonstration, and love.
Not only did three of his children and a son-in-law share about his life but multiple grandchildren revealed the impact of their grandfather—the time he invested, the conversations, and the love were treasured and irreplaceable.
Church members, Deacons, and even community friends offered words of admiration for a man who made such a difference by just offering words of encouragement, giving advice always rooted in Godly wisdom, or making time to pray with others.
Even his brother gave an awesome eulogy which had to be so difficult to lose your brother and yet, give others hope and perspective on their own mortality.
What initially started as supporting my friend in the loss of her father became a life lesson for me. Mr. Tatum’s existence was impactful because of the legacy he left for others. I witnessed his impact in four generations.
He lived this scripture: “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children.” (Proverbs 13:22)
His legacy is one that is eternal. His life brought people to Christ because of his character and his actions.
So many of us are so fixated on building lives that will fade when we take our last breath (if not sooner) that we are not focused on what is most important: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal or where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
(Matthew 6:20-21) What are you building and storing for yourself or for God’s kingdom?
I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about what a person values in how they spend their time. What do you treasure? And where is your heart?
Those two things will deter- mine the direction, depth, and durability of your legacy.
Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the President of Soulstice Consultancy and the Founder of the Reconciliation and Restoration Foundation. She is also the author of four books and the host of the Tapestry podcast.