What Will Your Legacy Be?
Speaker and sociologist Tony Campolo once spoke at a national pastors’ conference in San Diego on a project that he and his students had just completed. They asked fifty people aged ninety-five and older a single question: “Do you have any regrets?” Here is what these beautiful people had to say:
1. If I could do life over, I’d reflect more. It’s in the second half that we learn how important it is to find our strength in quietness and solitude. It’s in times of reflection that our best answers come from somewhere deep within us. I have been a Christian for more than fifty years, and one of the first psalms I ever learned is this one: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). I find that when I am spending time in quiet reflection and delight with God, my priorities and passions come to the forefront. There is no shortcut to deeper reflection.
2. If I could do life over, I’d risk more. Moving out of your comfort zone in your family, in your vocation, and in so many other relationships in the second half is a risk. But these older people wouldn’t hesitate to risk more often. It’s with risk that we sometimes have our most important experiences. People who take risks in the second half don’t seem to be afraid of failure, because even if they do fail, they see the value in learning all the way through the risk. Someone once said, “It’s risky not to take chances.” We all know people who took risks and ended up changing the world. What risks would you take right now if you had the courage?
3. If I could do life over, I would do more things that would live on after I’m dead. I love this saying from the book of Ecclesiastes: “[God] has also set eternity in the human heart” (3:11). Time after time when I speak to older people, I hear things like, “I hope to make an eternal difference.”
What will your legacy be?