Focus: Learning from examples of legacy

Psalm 103:17-18 (NCV) But the Lord’s love for those who respect Him continues forever and ever, and His goodness continues to their grandchildren and to those who keep His agreement and who remember to obey His orders.

There are many kinds of legacies. ‘Legacy’ is a word that often applies to endowment. Colleges and non-profit institutions encourage people to ‘leave a legacy’ or ‘make a difference’ for future generations, by giving a donation that will allow their work to continue.

A legacy can also be a body of work—handed down from one person to the next…with one person as the giver and the next person as the receiver. Legacy always involves someone who gave so that others could receive.

Creating your own legacy isn’t something that is accomplished in a day—or even a short period of time. A true legacy represents a significant investment of time and effort. If it’s money—it probably took time and effort to earn it. If it’s wisdom—it was most likely ‘hard won’. To be sure, a legacy is not something trivial.

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You’ve learned a lot by now. You’ve done some of your learning through reading or hearing about some of the accomplishments and failures of other people. You’ve also learned by making first hand evaluations based on sights, sounds, and experiences of your own, both good and bad. Many things you have learned are things you were told by parents, grandparents, school teachers, pastors, and other people who were in a position to ‘speak into’ your life.

Everything you’ve learned is part of your own two-fold legacy…creating a combination of what you have received, and what you have to give. Throughout your life, your mind has acted like a filter—sifting out the things you experienced or observed that were significant enough to earn the respect of being ‘remembered’, while the ‘not so important’ things have been forgotten. The reason you remembered some things and forgot others probably had to do with what you determined to be of lasting value, or not. Things you remember vividly have a lot to do with ‘who you are’ today. Some things you don’t remember, still shaped you in ways you may not consciously realize.

Many well-known people who have left a legacy, didn’t come from ‘good’ homes, and weren’t necessarily what we would judge as ‘successful’, from a monetary standpoint—yet the legacy they created and left was more profound than those who left fortunes.

There was a child born in August of 1910, in Albania. Her father died when she was eight, and her mother raised her as a Roman Catholic. As a child, Agnes Bojaxhiu was fascinated by the life stories of missionaries and how they served God in Bengal. At the age of 12, she knew she would commit herself to a religious life. When she was only 18, she left home to join the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary. She never saw her mother or sister again.

She went to Loreto Abbey in Ireland to learn English, the language the Sisters of Loreto used to teach school children in India. In 1929, she traveled to India and began her service near the Himalayan mountains. She learned Bengali and taught at the St. Teresa’s School, near her convent.

She took her first religious vows as a nun in May of 1931, when she was not quite 21 years old. She chose the name Teresa. She took her solemn vows in May of 1937, while serving as a teacher at the Loreto convent school in eastern Calcutta. She served there for almost twenty years, and became headmistress of the school in 1944.

On September 10th, 1946, Teresa experienced what she described as ‘the call within the call’. She knew she was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. She knew it was an order that she could not fail to follow. At that point in time, she essentially became Mother Teresa.

In 1948, she received basic medical training at the Holy Family Hospital in Patna, and then ventured into the slums to serve the poorest of the poor in very humble circumstances. In 1949 a small group of young women joined her in what became a new religious community serving the poor, sick, and dying. By 1996, she was operating 517 missions in more than 100 countries. At the end of her life in 1997, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity grew from only twelve to thousands serving the poorest of the poor in 450 centers around the world.

Mother Teresa was shaped by her early observations and experiences. She was deeply disturbed by poverty and chose to live a selfless life focused on compassion and empathy. Her example will always be a legacy.

Declaration: I will find new strength by seeing a bigger purpose in my present circumstances. I will focus my attention on becoming what God wants and considering what kind of legacy He might make of my life.

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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.


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