A few years back, I was attending a retreat centered around the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people. One of the exercises they had us do that week was to write down a mission statement for your life. I thought at first that was kind of silly. A mission statement for my life? I just want to be happy! Do I really need to write that down?
They explained that companies use mission statements to keep their goals in mind, and so we should create one for our lives. I set out to create mine. Turns out it was more difficult than I had anticipated. I eventually came up with five things, one of those "leave a legacy in the lives of my children".
What exactly is a legacy? The dictionary says it is "something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past". So it can be just about anything. Their values, their faith, their bad habits (ha!).
Events of this past weekend and this week have gotten me thinking about my legacy to my kids. What do I want them to carry with them into the world the day they leave my home? This last weekend, at the conference I attended, this lady talked about how she learned about service by watching her parents. She never realized other parents weren't like hers, involved in the community, and always helping others. She simply thought all families just did that.
I want to leave a legacy of service in my kids. I want them to count their blessings, and share them with those less fortunate. I wish for them to have a heart of service, a giving heart. I realize that's not something you can teach by just telling someone "you should be charitable, you should share your blessings with the less fortunate". You have to lead by example.
I hope one day, when my children leave my home, they will have learned that sometimes, giving money is not enough. Sometimes people just need (as the song says) "someone to lean on". Someone to listen. Someone to care. And that the best gift we can give others is our compassion, not our money. It doesn't matter if you have no money, you always, always have something valuable to give someone in need: your time, your compassion.