Learning to Leave a Legacy — What’s in a Name?

Before I get too far out of the starting gate, this blog’s name, “Learning to Leave a Legacy” deserves its own post.
Webster’s dictionary defines “legacy” as anything handed down from the past. Since every living person has a past, we must not ask, am I leaving a legacy, but, what legacy am I leaving? A legacy may:
  • Uplift or tear down
  • Enrich or impoverish
  • Expand or contract
  • Enlighten or obscure
  • Spread peace or strife
  • Cast narrow or broad
I’m writing this post sitting in the home of my recently deceased aunt.  An auction company is removing the personal possessions from her home.  It’s a sobering experience to observe how little those things mean.  I want the measure of my lifespan on earth to leave a legacy of enduring value to others in my circle of influence. Like many of you, I want others to think of me as wise.
Webster’s dictionary defines “wisdom” as knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action. In other words, a wise person aligns their beliefs and behaviors with Truth. 
Let’s consider that definition in two pieces–knowledge of the truth and practicing justice. 
1. Knowledge of the Truth
But how do I know what is right or true? I see at least three ways to acquire knowledge of the truth.  One, humans have a conscience that sometimes accuses and at other times defends our own actions; although my repeated actions can sharpen or dull this innate sense for what is right. Two, the Christian faith teaches that any person who lacks wisdom may receive it by asking of God who gives to all generously. And third, we may acquire wisdom through life experience.  Since this third source is the only one we influence as humans, I want to explore it a bit.
Even a cursory observation of mankind concludes that acquiring wisdom requires something more than longevity of life. That something is a zest for learning. Whether they do so consciously or not, most wise people acquire knowledge of the truth by applying a process akin to the scientific method. 
First, they intentionally seek and voraciously consume the acquired knowledge and wisdom from those who preceded them. From that knowledge and their own life experience they develop hypotheses (or beliefs) about what is right or true. However, those ideas remain academic information until tested in their individual lives. That testing process requires purposeful action; most notably, making time for reflection in order to progress upon a learning path (Applying our senses to collect data >> Sifting the data for patterns to glean information >> Acting on that information to acquire knowledge >> Repeatedly practicing knowledge in a variety of circumstances to gain the expertise/wisdom).
2. Practicing Justice
Like our conscience, I would contend that we are also born with an innate sense of fairness.  Consider small children who are quick to say, “That’s not fair!” at perceived injustice. However, unless arrested, our naturally selfish nature will breed a callous disregard for others that eventually dampens our ability to sense injustice. This  tendency suggests the wisdom to produce a powerful and positive legacy rests on a servant’s heart.
Learning to Leave a Legacy
Summing up…a powerfully positive legacy requires a commitment to intentional learning and a heart of service toward others.  This blog, “Learning to Leave a Legacy” embodies my commitment to share what I am learning on the journey of building my own legacy.