Pastor's Piece - Legacies of Love
by Dr Alex Currie
Legacies of Love
Have you ever been left an inheritance? My parents left me no money. When mother died while I was in my mid-teens, she left me some valuable books which I still treasure. It was her who helped instill in me a heap of values for which I'm eternally grateful. Thank God for mothers. When my father passed away there was no inheritance except memories.
One of my classmates at Andrews University, Roger Dudley, became a researcher for the church and has written numerous books including one about passing on values to younger generations. This is a valuable and insightful read to any parent. How do we pass on values that we treasure, or is that impossible?
In my library is a book of wisdom written by Hal Urban entitled 20 Things I want My Kids to Know. Have you taken time out to think about lessons you would like your children to put into practice and for which they'll ever be grateful? Before reading further stop and write things you believe are important for your children to practice if they are to become successful adults. American philosopher Emerson wrote "Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood." What lessons do you want your children to live? Napoleon Hill has said "All great truths are simple in final analysis, and easily understood; if they are not, they are not great truths."
Take time to compare your list of lessons with five selected from Hal Urban's book. For his other fifteen buy the book, it's published by Thomas Nelson Publishers and well worth the read.
1. Success is more than making money.
Wynn Davis says "Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is in the doing, not the getting - in the trying, not the triumph." Urban says "Successful people accept life as it is, with all its difficulties and challenges....Successful people develop and maintain a positive attitude toward life....they build good relationships....have a sense of direction and purpose....have a strong desire to learn about life, the world, and themselves....are action oriented....maintain high standards in their personal conduct....understand the difference between existing and living and always choose the latter."pp 10-11.
2. Life is Hard...and Not Always Fair.
In the early 1990's I conducted a community weekly study of M. Scott Peck's book The Road Less Travelled. Peck wrote "Life is a series of problems. Do we want to moan about them or solve them?" Recently I chatted to an old primary school friend about one of our classmates who had lost a spouse more than a decade ago. My friend said "Our classmate felt sorry for herself and grieved for ten years, then suddenly realised that the world does not devote itself to making us happy and underwent a complete change of thinking and is now really making a difference in her world and for others. Her whole attitude has changed."
One of the great books of the 80's is Rabbi Harold S. Kushner's book When Bad Things Happen to Good People in which he deals with the universal question "Why me?". The author had every reason to ask the question because his son Aaron was diagnosed at three years of age as having progeria - rapid aging disease, and died when fourteen. He and his family were dealt a cruel deal! "Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional," wrote Tim Hansel. Our attitudes - the choices we make affect not only ourselves but others, so develop Benjamin's Franklin's belief that says "Those things that hurt, instruct."
3. Life is Also Fun...and Incredibly Funny.
Hearty laughter is a marvellous gift from God. Values guru, Gary Applegate wrote in Happiness It's Your Choice, (1985) that fun is a basic human need. Individuals need to have fun. Families need to generate fun. Churches need to create fun elements in their social planning. Play and laughter go together - so humans need to create time for relaxation and play to build a climate for laughter. A book my mother left me carries the title "Laugh and Grow Fat!" Life can be serious, hard and repetitious, but we all need to change gears and enjoy laughing for it can bring healing to the soul. Remember, Solomon wrote "A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones" Proverbs 17:22. No wonder "Laughter, the Best Medicine" is one of the most read sections in Reader's Digest.
Norman Cousins in Head First; The Biology of Hope (1989) details the physiological benefits of laughter stating that it can be a strong painkiller; enhancer's respiration - producing morphine like molecules we call endorphins; increases disease fighting immune cells; improves blood circulation and generally "contributes to good health." So laugh heartedly and laugh often!
4. We live by Choice, not by Chance.
Henry Ward Beecher, preacher, social reformer, abolitionist and American speaker in the 19th century said "God asks no man whether he will accept life. That is not the choice. You must take it. The only choice is how." Most people think life has been determined by circumstances, luck, or by the way the planets are aligned but that is untrue. Decisions are the hinges of destiny. Our ability to choose is a wonderful freedom and a source of strength. You are free to choose your character, your values, how you treat other people, how much you'll learn, what you'll accomplish in life, your belief system, your purpose and direction in life and your attitude. No wonder J. Martin Kohe wrote "The greatest power that a person possesses is the power to choose."
5. Habits are a Key to Success.
A writer I've enjoyed reading is OgMandino who says "In truth, the only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits." What habits have you incorporated into your life that you would like to pass on? Our habits reflect our character! In Habits of the Heart, sociologist Robert Bellah et al, writes "the kind of life we want depends on the kind of people we are - on our character." So it's the kind of people we are that makes us successful. In my wife's classroom above the white board she has pasted the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People from the book with the same title by Stephen R Covey, incidentally his sub-title is "Restoring the Character Ethic." During the course of the year the children are challenged to live by those habits. Aristotle wrote in the 4th century BC that "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
So, what's your legacy of values going to be in the lives of others?
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