What Does a Legacy Look Like?

028The older I get, the more I find myself thinking about my legacy. How will I be remembered when I’m gone? What will I have passed down to my children and grandchildren? What did I invest into the lives of others? Did I make a difference? As I’ve begun to catch occasional glimpses of the finish line off in the distance, the need to answer these questions has become increasingly more urgent. I suppose it’s been one of  my primary motives for starting to write.While I certainly hope that the experiences and insights I share will be of some value, I can’t rule out the possibility that this blog is, at its core, nothing more than electronic graffiti, a feeble attempt to leave behind some little shred of evidence that I was here.

It’s a pretty safe bet that I won’t be leaving behind a wealthy estate for my heirs to build upon (or fight over)! It’s doubtful I’ll ever achieve a level of fame or notoriety that would secure my place in the history books. But I have come to believe that a life well lived, even a simple life, can change the world. I know this because I’ve seen it first hand. I know because one such life changed mine forever.

Just this past week I had to say goodbye to one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. For the last 19 years he was a second father, brother, mentor, and best friend to me. He wasn’t wealthy or famous, and by the world’s standards, not even what most would consider successful. Yet the influence and impact he had on the lives of those who knew him is immeasurable; stories of his generosity, kindness, and fun loving spirit, far too numerous to recount here. But maybe what he did isn’t nearly as important as how and why he did it. I think perhaps Jesus explained it better than I could:

“The greatest among you will be your servant. For he who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 20: 11 -12

Having the heart of a servant made Leon Barnes the Christian, husband, father, grandfather, employer, neighbor, and friend that he was. It was that spirit that not only attracted people to him, but drew them closer to the Lord he loved. He didn’t have to preach or quote scriptures. The way he lived said it all. He will never be forgotten. His legacy is both secure and eternal.

There is no doubt that who I have become (and am still becoming), has been shaped in a large way by his example. However, he didn’t act alone. I’ve been blessed with several mentors and friends along the way who poured into my life, and left a little of their legacy with me. There’s also no denying that I am my father’s son! Although his influence at times was an uninvited guest, I now cherish our relationship and am grateful for his wisdom.

Now that I think about it, most everyone in my life (including some of you who are reading this right now!) has is some way contributed to the sum total of who I am. But isn’t this true for all of us? I’ve always heard that “no man is an island,” and I think I’m starting to realize just how true that is. You see, we’re all connected. We all need each other. Everything we do, even the little things (perhaps especially the little things) matters…forever.

That’s the essence of the Butterfly Effect.

I’m beginning to realize that we don’t really leave a legacy behind at all…maybe we just pass them on and on and on…

So whose legacy has become a living part of your life? What kind of legacy are you passing on?

7 thoughts on “What Does a Legacy Look Like?

  1. Yet another beautiful post! Very appropriate for the times that we are in with the grieving of Dad. I can say that part of the legacy you will leave is just your presence and openness. You have carved a niche in my heart by the way you choose to share your experiences. During my roughest years I always knew that there was a better way to live, by watching your life. I held on to the knowledge that I could in fact overcome the stumbling blocks in my way. I was able to watch your life change and hear you talk to Dad and those around you about what was new in your life. I watched as you followed God’s call on your life. As you just did and went with whatever was open to you. You preached, played guitar, sang, lead worship, and even was the Reverend that presided over my 1st marriage, just to name a few. As I watched you overcome I also begin to overcome. I could clearly see that Jesus was the answer. Not only did my father teach me that but you taught me that. In your actions you taught me over and over again. Thank you for just being who you are and being a friend to me and my whole family. Dad surely loved you like a brother. His eyes lit up when you showed up. You could see his whole demeanor change and the happiness you brought when you walked in. Thank you for being part of a beautiful butterfly effect.


    1. Thank you so much for the kind words Mindy. I know getting through this will be hard but your dad’s already shown us how to do it! We’ll just keep trusting God and loving each other. That’s how he did everything!


  2. This has been one of my areas of thought a lot lately. I smile when I see God work in ways like this. I had been trying to remember where a scripture was and opened my email and the first message included that very scripture! And then this. God is good.


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