What Kind of Legacy are You Leaving Your Children?

We are all born into families with beliefs, behaviors, and thought processes that are passed on to us.

I come from a family of “yellers.” I never thought anything of it; raising our voices when we spoke to one another was common. Then, my oldest daughter, at about four years old, asked me one day, “Mommy, why are you always angry and yelling at me?” I stopped in my tracks. I realized instantly, by the grace of God, that I was communicating in the only way I knew, and it wasn’t pretty.

My sweet and blameless child was a victim of my inheritance. 

My innocent daughter saw me as angry and loud. I was not creating a peaceful home. Unknowingly, I was passing on the legacy of yelling to her.

I did not want to pass this on.

Have you ever really stopped to think about the legacy you are leaving? <<Click to Tweet

Legacy is defined as something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past. Legacies are what we pass on and leave behind.

We are called to be “missionaries” wherever we are—work, volunteering, speaking to a cashier, at the Division of Motor Vehicles, or when responding to our mother-in-love, husband, or children. I considered whether or not my behavior reflected that. What will be said about me when people look back on my interaction with them?  Will they remember a joyful, loving, kind, compassionate person or someone who was angry, impatient, grouchy, lazy, selfish, or entitled?

I can easily call to mind people in my life who have left an unforgettable legacy. What about you? Is there a relative, teacher, friend who showed you unconditional love, compassion, or kindness?  What were his or her attributes? Traits? Were they generous? A prayer warrior? Someone to be trusted?

According to Galatians 3:26 – 4:7, we are all children of God through faith; we are free through Christ; we receive His Holy Spirit. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can change for God’s glory.

My legacy is not restricted by my earthly inheritance. My hope for change comes from being an heir of Christ and His inheritance to me. <<Click to Tweet

Romans 8:15-17 says: The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Through the Holy Spirit, we inherit the Fruit of the Spirit.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a).

What beautiful traits to inherit. We have been given power through the Holy Spirit to show love to a dark world, to express joy in our families and communities, to share peace in the midst of trouble, and to extend patience to others. We have also received the legacy of kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.

God knows about the legacy we’ve received that doesn’t represent Christ. The good news is that we don’t have to accept what’s been passed down from our earthly ancestors. Instead we can claim a godly legacy--His inheritance.  

We are new in Christ. God wants to change us so we can reflect who He is to the world. <<Click to Tweet

He loves us that much. What a privilege.

So all of us who have the veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord – who is the spirit, makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Through that experience with my daughter, the Lord really exposed my legacy of yelling. As a believer, I knew that it was something He wanted me to change…

I took a hard look at my parenting traits that I’d inherited and, through prayer, I was able to change. I drew from the Fruits of the Spirit as my “Parent Guidebook” and although change was hard, it was achievable by the grace of God. I became more patient and joyful toward the precious gift of my children whom God had entrusted to me. I hope this will be the legacy that my daughter will remember and pass along to her children one day. I hope…and pray.

What will your legacy be in Christ?

April Sliwak has been married to her best friend, Dan, for 26 years and has been blessed to raise three daughters, all college aged. April has a desire and vision to teach and guide women and girls into the understanding of what it means to have a relationship with the Lord and to know of His love in a small group environment. April facilitates and speaks at women’s retreats, was Superintendent of Sunday School, Prayer Leader in Moms in Prayer, Girl Scout Leader for 15 years, and administered and is certified in sexual abstinence programs.

 April currently lives with her family in Glen Ridge, NJ and works at Anthropolgie. She loves to cook, shop, and relax at the beach in Brigantine, NJ with her family and friends.

photo credit: NATEPERRO via photopin cc

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