The Building Blocks of a Family Legacy
The term Family Legacy oftentimes is referred to as some sort of financial inheritance or establishing your wealth plan and how you will disperse it to your descendants. However, when we talk about family legacy, we are talking about everybody everywhere building and leaving some sort of legacy. What is legacy then?
Legacy is actually the long term effect and response that your children and those closest to you experience as a result of how you lived and what you talked about.
In short, legacy is an inheritance of values, principles, lifestyles, choices, and hopefully a central mission. An inheritance is something that is not only given but also received. It is a both/and. There MUST be intentional and strategic acts by which we purposefully give our legacy to our children. However, our children must also willingly and enthusiastically grab hold of and embody our legacy in order for it to survive and thrive for generations!
An Inheritance of Family Legacy is both given and received.
So, how do we actually make that transfer and how can we get our kids to take hold of all we profess and demonstrate?
Here are 3 necessary(I would even call them the PILLARS OF FAMILY LEGACY) ingredients to ensure that it is transferred effectively. There are other necessary ingredients but we will cover those at a later time.
Ingredient #1: STORY
What do I mean by story? Story is where you start off, it is remembrance and the act of bringing forth the past in order to learn from it so we can make improvements going into the future. Story is everything from our origins, our heritage,
Story is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL. Why? Because the telling of our stories(origins, heritage, history, etc..) is what we use to illustrate and capture the hearts of our children. When we tell stories of our past it gives them the opportunity to imagine and feel what happened in their own mind. It gives them something both tangible evidence and sensational qualities that they can relate with.
The other reason I would say that Story is such a vital component to a Family Legacy is because our story reminds us of where we were. That where we are now didn't just happen, but that there was struggle and growth, joy and sadness - in order to get to where we are now. Telling the story of who we are, where we came from, and much more gives us and our kids a reason to remain humble.
The Bible offers countless examples of how God was constantly reminded the Israelites where they came from! He did this both to show them who He was but to instill humility! Humans are prideful!
Attaining humility is tough but our stories are what draw that crucial character train into existence in us and our kids. Humility tells us that we are all on a journey, that we don't have it all figured out, and that we still need help to learn and grow.
Maybe you are wondering where it would be good to start when attempting to tell your story. Here are some ideas on, how, and things to include when, telling your story to each other and to your kids.
- Take time to think through your own childhood - reminisce on both positive and negative experiences and make a list of them. Write out some of the struggles or challenges that your grandparents, parents, or other family members experienced or went through and take note of how those challenges affected you.
- Do some research on your family history, maybe use a DNA test to grow your understanding of the lineage of your family
- Think of moments that made you come alive, made you laugh, and made you cry
- When you find times to share, pick a moment or event and share it with emotion...aka humor, excitement, passion, heartbreak.. This will allow your kids to feel what you felt and understand on a deeper level though they may not be able to grasp the words or concepts yet.
- Tell them how you overcame some of the pain you may have experienced - this is where we often tell about Jesus and how He helped us get through tough times
In our experience, kids LOVE to hear stories of when we were kids. They love to be able to relate with us and understand what it was like for us a child! So make sure you take time as often as you can to share some stories.
Humility positions our hearts to receive what we've realized we ned through the telling of our stories. It positions our kids' hearts to desire what it will take to continue to live better and grow in character.
Thus, a nicely orchestrated opportunity to begin weaving in, demonstrating, and teaching everything you stand for.
Ingredient #2: VALUES
Our values are our leading indicators of what we believe and stand for. Where we "draw the line" of right and wrong AND what is MOST IMPORTANT versus least important.
In Family Legacy Mapping we often say that "what we value determines what we do". Our values inform and drive our daily decisions. The decisions that we make ultimately become the story that we tell(intentionally or unintentionally). We will all tell a story. However, it is the active focus of what we value most that filters what we decide to do. Are our decisions telling a story that is worth being told?
Today, it is hard to cut through the noise of everything the world is bombarding us with day in and day out. The world is ruthless. So, if we aren't CRYSTAL CLEAR on what we value and stand for, the world will take us at the knees. Before long we are swept away. A lack of clarity and focus will lead us into drift and simply 'getting by'. Before long, we will look back after 20 years and ask ourselves, "Where did the time go?". Unfortunately for us, there is never any "break time" - we are constantly moving. We are just either moving forwards or backwards.
Sounds hard and overwhelming but the clearer we are the easier it gets to filter out the noise and focus on what matters most.
Thankfully, it is possible to get clear. It is hard but it is possible. Legacy Mapping makes it simple and guides you along the way.
Andy Stanley said "Until you stop long enough to decide ahead of time where you want to go, you will live your life unaware of the sacrifices necessary to get there".
So, after we have clarified what we value, or what is most important, then we have to intentionally demonstrate what we value. Otherwise is it really what we value? Probably not, therefore it takes focused, intentional, action on a regular basis.
This is how we must first profess and teach our kids what we value. We ourselves have to demonstrate it. Why? Because our kids won't always do what we say, but they will always do what we do. Kids are imitators, they like to mimic.
For us, this looks like starting with a list of our core family values and then brainstorming how we might implement them into our daily, weekly, and monthly life. We do what we believe. We take what we value and we put in on the calendar. If not, then we can't say we value it. Now, this is where the rubber hits the road and where most fall out. It is extremely hard to intentionally demonstrate what we value but it is sooooo important if we intend to Build a Legacy that Lasts. First, our kids are imitators, so they will do it if we do it. Secondly, when we do it and they do it, it affords us the opportunity to reinforce our values by physically telling them what we value and why.
This is where our kids will begin to grasp it and even desire it. When they see the fruit, when they see the benefits being lived in our own lives, they will want the same thing. When are kids are seeing it and wanting it, we can then profess and teach. Reinforcing the why, and doing so regularly over the course of their 18 years of life at home.
Now, just like our values determine what we do, what we do drives the story that we tell.
Ingredient #3: MISSION
Mission is the last and final primary ingredient to build a legacy that lasts. We want the story that we tell with our value-informed decisions to drive our mission as a family forward. We want our mission TO BE our story. How do you know what your mission is or will be?
It is the cumulative response to strategic questions, values, and decisions. It is the grand statement and overall focus as a family. It sums up everything in a memorable, repeatable, and captivating way. It is and will be the way our family is known and remembered for generations to come. It guides, reminds, and re-aligns our family back to our why. It pulls us forward and brings us together.
The intentional outworking of the Family Mission is the bonding element for the whole family. It is what motivates us to sacrifice our own wants for the greater good of the family. It too, with our values, helps to inform our decisions which inevitably create a sharpening of our character as people and facilitates an environment of unity, joy, peace, and satisfaction in the family.
Mission is what is needed to remind us of all we stand for and remind us of where we have been. But it also is meant to pull us into the future, it is meant to facilitate a central focus and goal as a family. Something to rally around, to talk about, and live out together and in our own lives. The mission becomes everyone's aim.
However, it doesn't become reality if the other building blocks are not effectively working. Each building block is required simultaneously and in synchrony in order to build a legacy that lasts.
Our Story reminds us of our PAST, our Values determine what we do in the PRESENT, and our Mission leads us into the FUTURE.
Each ingredient is required and when we perform each with intentionality and regularly we will build a legacy, we will become Legacymakers.
Being a Legacymaker isn't meant to be done alone, at Legacymakers, we provide the process, the encouragement, and accountability to ensure that the legacy you leave is the legacy you intend to leave.