It’s no secret I’m a swords, hammers, shields, ancient war, strategy, warrior kind of guy. If you’ve been in my office or spent much time at all around me, it’s pretty easy to pick up on. That being said, I like epic things and movies because they resonate with something deep in my soul and how God made me. I love the idea of being a part of something bigger than myself and making an impact on people and humanity…leaving the church and the world a better place than it was when I found it.
There’s a scene from the movie “TROY” where the main character, Achilles (played by Brad Pitt), is having a talk with a young boy. The boy has come to get Achilles to fight this giant of a man in a one-on-one combat that would save the lives of many other soldiers. The boy warns Achilles, “The man is a giant. I wouldn’t want to fight him.”
“That’s why no one will remember your name,” Achilles replies.
Seems harsh, right? But think about it, we make decisions and build relationships that will effect how we will be viewed and remembered long after we are gone. It’s our legacy. In light of Father’s Day, I felt it would be a good time to talk about what sort of legacy we are leaving, not only as dads, but as Christ followers.
Eight years ago, I met William Fleming. Mr. William, or “Papaw” as the majority of us referred to him, was my wife’s paternal grandfather. When Whitney and I started dating, meeting him and “Mamaw” was one of the most important things to do for me as an entering boyfriend/potential husband. Papaw was strong but calm. He loved only God more than his family. He loved to tell jokes (mostly corny ones). He always made everyone laugh even though none of us ever had the heart to say we’d heard the joke before. Always near to him, either beside his recliner or his bed, was a battle-worn Bible that he used to preach from, encourage, and give correction to his friends, his bride, his children, and all of his grandchildren.
Papaw served in the military in WWII and worked at the paper mill for years. He was the guy everyone called when something was broken because he could fix anything.
The thing I remember most about Papaw is how he loved his family and how much they loved him. It was immediately evident that everyone respected him, loved him, and viewed him as the patriarch and leader of a great family. He was like a wise sage, a king everyone in the land looked up to and came to for advice and help. But there was also a warrior within. He had a quiet strength and confidence that would make hell itself tremble at the thought of a man like him being stirred to battle against it.
Papaw was a man who could make you feel like a better person after talking to him. He could impart wisdom and encouragement like no other. He could do that because he genuinely had the love of Christ flowing from him and he loved and cared for everyone with his whole heart.
Proverbs 22:1 says this, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”
Psalm 127:3-5 reads, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He will not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies at the gate.”
On May 5, 2010, Papaw finished his battle and went home to be with his Lord and Savior. At his funeral, I saw the very definition of “legacy” and the above Scriptures fulfilled to the fullest degree. People overflowed from the church where we gathered to remember a great man. Children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, friends and relatives all gathered not just to remember, but to share the impact William Fleming made in their lives. His influence impacted so many and still does to this day. It was an honor to name our son after such a great man.
Of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, several are in vocational ministry, all of them are active in their church and are committed Christ followers. The love, guidance, and wisdom Papaw shared with each of us continues to impact others around us, making the legacy of William Fleming reach far beyond the boundaries of Northeast Louisiana.
We all are building a legacy. We will all be remembered. We all have to make the conscious decision to invest in the lives of people rather than in temporary, fleeting things of this world. Our “good name” will live on through the people we have impacted. We must choose to love and lead well with those we call family and friends.
When the time comes for me to meet my King, I pray I will have been a loving husband and father, a strong visionary and an encouraging leader, and that my legacy will be one that honors and serves the Gospel of Jesus Christ, just like Papaw Fleming.