What Will Be Your Legacy?

Family Bridges

What Will Be Your Legacy?

Contributed by
Bill Ferrell

We will all leave a legacy. The question is not if we will – but what will it be? It’s a great question for all of us to consider. Perhaps the following story will help encourage you…

My father was a college English professor.  He taught John Steinbeck and Nathaniel Hawthorne and Flannery O’Connor and many other great American writers.  I grew up with a large framed picture of William Faulkner hanging on the family wall.  Dinner conversations often revolved around what everyone in the family was reading.  I am very grateful for the love of literature that my father passed on to me.  He was a true academic and his expertise was clearly in the world of books and ideas.

So I was very surprised when my father volunteered to coach my 4th grade baseball team.  I had never known him to follow baseball, let alone understand anything about the game.  And that season proved that he really didn’t.  We had a record of 1 win and 19 losses.  And the 1 win was against a team who had gotten their schedule confused and half their team didn’t show – so they had to forfeit.

I really don’t remember anything in the way of baseball instruction from my father.  I am guessing that there really wasn’t much.  The one thing I do remember is that he would always promise us snow cones if we won.  And we did love snow cones.  What kid doesn’t?  So it wasn’t a bad incentive.  It’s just that the promise of flavored ice didn’t make up for the fact that we couldn’t hit, run, or catch.

But after losing each game he would sit us down and tell us what a good job we had done.  He would tell us not to be discouraged.  Sure, we may not have scored as many runs as the other team (if at all), but we had played with desire and passion and the heart of a winner.  He would tell us that he was proud of us.  And then he would pause, and with a little smile on his face he would yell out, “Snow cones for everyone.”  At that point we would run out of the dugout and storm the concession stand.

We all knew we would get snow cones whether we won or loss.  Whether we performed well or performed poorly.  Getting a snow cone was not dependent on us in any way whatsoever.  We had nothing to do with it.  My father gave us snow cones because he was a loving man and he couldn’t help himself.  He just had to give us snow cones.

The next year my father coached my same baseball team again.  And the funny thing was that we had an incredible season – 18 wins and 2 losses.  I don’t know how that happened.  Maybe we practiced more.  Or maybe some of the guys started to grow and gain some strength and skill.  Or maybe there was something in those snow cones.  I don’t know.

Over the years I have reflected a lot on that time.  I have really good memories of my father, and the baseball years are some of the best.  My father didn’t coach my team because he loved baseball, or because he loved leading a group of kids in the pursuit of winning, or because he loved snow cones.  He did it because he loved me.  I knew it then and I understand it even more deeply now.

My father wasn’t perfect – far from that.  And yet I did know he loved me.  I know that is not everyone’s experience with their father.  Some have had good experiences and some have had bad experiences.

Regardless of your experience of your earthly father, though, you have a heavenly Father who loves you with an overwhelming love. He deeply loves you! He delights in you. If you are able to take in how much he loves you – it will transform you. You’ll never be the same. And you will pass that same love onto others.

And that’s a legacy worth leaving!

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