You and I are Creating Our Legacies Every Day – Let’s Make Them Count!
When Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist Charles Kuralt died in 1997, he was mourned by his family and countless others, remembered fondly for his outstanding journalism.
Two years later, the bombshell dropped.
Charles Kuralt had been living a double life for 29 years. He had forged a legendary career in New York City where he lived with his wife Petie and their children, but he became exposed after his death for a longtime relationship with Pat Shannon in Montana and other states, carefully hidden from his wife.
Shannon had been his mistress for nearly three decades and he had filled the father role to her children from a previous marriage, even paying for their college and a law school tuition.
"Charles always said… 'Don't worry, we're rich’…" Shannon said. "Charles took care of all my needs."
His extensive traveling schedule made absences away from his wife easy to explain.
His legacy was tarnished.
It seems constant in the headlines – we are witnesses to the rise and the fall of so many prominent men and women, ultimately exposed by their sins. It pains me to even write the words, but Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias is another, and at present Hillsong Church’s leadership seems to weave in and out of the news with failure after failure.
Those legacies are tarnished.
Luke 8:17 tells us “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”
A Life Well-lived!
God always leaves a faithful remnant. Vanessa and I enjoyed our 17 years living in Dallas, and during a portion of that time, we attended Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, pastored by Dr. Tony Evans. We mourned with thousands of others when his wife Lois passed on Dec. 30, 2020. I took a day off from work to attend her Celebration of Life a few days later on Jan. 5. And what a celebration it was!
When Lois Evans closed out her time on earth, she was surrounded by her husband and their four children. Tony Evans read Psalm 91:2-6 over her, reaffirming the covering and faithfulness of God to His children. He and his children have written a beautiful book, Divine Disruption, describing those moments.
“A tear streamed down her cheek. I watched my wife of fifty years fade from earth, grateful that our children were there to share the moment. I prayed, Lord, if this is Your will, then I am going to yield to Your will.
Anthony sang, and we all cried many tears. We told her how thankful we were for giving us so much, for all her sacrifice and love.
Now that is legacy at its finest!
What About Us?
We sometimes ascribe legacies only to the influential and well-known. That’s not so. Every one of us is working on our legacy – every husband, every wife, every couple, every single. What will your legacy be when your time is done?
As the sand drains from life’s hourglass, I find myself reflecting on who I am and how short I often fall as to where I want to be. What I can purpose to achieve, through my flaws and shortcomings, is that I will not be a hypocrite and cast a knowing stain upon the Christianity that I cherish.
My faith is not counterfeit – in the judgment, I know that I must be covered in the power of Jesus to prove acceptable to a Holy God. In the meantime, my legacy is yet being written.
As a couple, Vanessa and I are writing our legacy every day. We are writing it through our work, through our character and values, through our investments in what matters to us. We want to make it count, to last far beyond the end of our flesh as we desire to help others become functional and healthy.
We encourage you – as an individual and alongside your spouse, to contemplate your legacy. And don’t just think about – be about it. So where you are right now is not where you had hoped or dreamed - well, as long as you have breath, make that change. Strive for greatness and to be all God called you to be – and start today!
Legacy is built on so much more than “the big stuff.” Legacy is built by gently cupping your spouse’s hands and praying with him or her before you go off the workplace. Legacy is playing games with your children and letting them win, or beating them and saying with a winsome grin “You’re gonna have to do better than that to beat me.” Legacy is spending time with your aging parent, recognizing that they’ve “lost a step” but loving on them and giving them the utmost deference and respect.
Legacy is taking the high road and not going tit-for-tat when an adversary baits you. Legacy is doing what is right, not what is popular. Legacy is saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it. Legacy is saying a cheery “good morning” to that grumpy neighbor lady who just won’t speak! Legacy is being knocked to the mat six times - and getting back up each and every time!
Those things help your legacy to take shape – and keep building on those things, day by precious day.
Each of us are members of a relay team and each day we draw nearer to finishing our leg of the race and passing the baton. Are you ready?
A full 3 in 10 American adults identify today as religiously nonaffiliated – and the number is growing.
How do we combat that – well, we build our legacies through loving, forgiving, serving, and carrying out the Great Commission of Jesus Christ with authenticity and boldness.
My heart grieves for the fallen. It’s painful to recount those stories and when I think of them, their wives and families, and the people they hurt, and their immortal souls, they serve as cautionary tales that remind us that Jesus and Jesus alone is Lord. We must beware of celebrity Christians, while also recognizing that many in the public spotlight did and do lead exemplary and inspiring lives. I admire many men of women of days past and present, but they are not the object of my affection or my worship. Neither is the flag. I pledge allegiance to Jesus. He alone holds the high place.
Your marriage and your family will be cornerstones of your legacy. It might not be easy, but at the end of day, you want to pass that baton with godly pride. The handoff may not be perfect, but if you give your race your all as you are led by the Spirit, you can hold your head up high.
A Final Caution
My father, Walter Hall, died on June 29, 2020. He left behind seven children and a complicated legacy. I loved my father, and I know he loved me. He was charming and giving but he could also be difficult and hard to reach. I’m grateful that, thanks to a reunion orchestrated by Vanessa, he and I grew closer in his last 18 years of life.
But I met two of my siblings for the very first time at his home on the day before he passed. It made for awkward beginnings and when the time came to settle his estate, it was a difficult road to travel. I say this not to cast aspersions on my father - God forbid - but as a cautionary tale for you and me. Get your house in order!
What’s Your Legacy?
I’m not ashamed to say that I pray God will give Vanessa and me length of days. But I also pray for strength of days - that He would give us health and drive to share the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, using words as necessary.
When I pass, I want people to know and remember that Kenneth loved and served the Lord and he was the same man publicly and privately. He believed, and it showed in his character. I want my wife, my sons, my friends, even my acquaintances, to know in their knowers that they were loved by me.
Run your race well, my friend. The finish line draws nearer with each passing day.