A few days ago, I heard a promotion on the radio for a major music event upcoming in Las Vegas. Taylor Swift was mentioned in the list of scheduled performers. That did not surprise me. How the announcer described her, however, caught my attention. In fact, it made me laugh. He did not call her beautiful. He did not call her talented. He called her legendary.
Not the word I expected. And–I believe–it is not a word we should use so flippantly when describing individuals.
I heard that radio spot on the way to Pizza Hut to pickup food for the family. As soon as I greeted the teenager at the cash register, I asked her, “What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘legendary’?” Her response was perfect. She thinks of “heroes, people who made a difference.” People to be remembered.
I don’t think so.
Let me ask you: What name comes to your mind when you hear the word legendary? George Washington? Thomas Jefferson? Harriet Tubman? Neil Armstrong? Mother Teresa? All good candidates. They all made a difference. They may even qualify for the category of hero. But one thing is sure, they can definitely be described as examples. And isn’t what every adult should be? It’s what I want to be–an example; a great example.
Do you know why?
More is caught than taught.
Whether we like it or not, we are being watched. Some of us are being viewed by very impressionable eyes. In my case, five children are watching how I act and react. They are listening to my words. They are even evaluating the attitude in which those words are communicated.
That is sobering!
I am not “legendary.” I never will be. My name may not be remembered the week after my funeral. The difference I have made is minimal. However, I am very much counting on another “L” word to be in play: Legacy.
I am currently in the process of raising adults. They just happen to be young at the moment. But my mission is more than simply seeing that my children mature into adulthood. I desire them to be adults who genuinely make a difference in the world in which they reside. Indeed–it is my intense prayer that they become God-exalting, people-blessing adults. Should that be the result of our incessant efforts and untold hours, Jodi and I will be very pleased. We do not care of our children become legendary; faithful with their time, talents and treasure will suffice.
Parenting is such a challenging vocation! Without a doubt, it is the most difficult calling in which I have engaged. How desperately I do I need God in this endeavor! How thankful I am that Jodi and I are on the same page when in comes to both our philosophy of parenting and how that philosophy is fleshed out on a daily basis! Are we perfect parents? Not even close. Our children will attest to our glaring faults and failures. Yet I also believe–if not now, in the future–that they will describe our parenting as purposeful. They will remember how much we were engaged in their lives and how much we valued time together as a family. They will also easily recall the spiritual emphasis that permeated their environment. This gives us hope as we navigate both the teenage years and the baby years (Celena is 14 and Cadence is 4 mos.)!
If you are a parent, continue to strive to take your responsibilities seriously. Stay engaged. Strive to leave a legacy. If you do not have any children, pray for those who do and support their efforts. More is caught than taught through you as well.
Taylor Swift isn’t legendary. I am not legendary. But I can leave a legacy. You can do the same.