How to Build a Spiritual Legacy

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At the request of my ninety-year-old mother-in-law, four generations gathered the week before Christmas for good food, fun and fellowship. The “white elephant” gifts had been opened, the dishes washed, the games played. Prayers had been offered. The afternoon wound down.

Shirley, the matriarch of the family, called everyone together for one last activity. She handed everyone a red envelope with our name on it. Christmas cards.

The room grew quiet as the cards were opened. These weren’t merely Christmas cards. Shirley had handwritten an individualized and heartfelt message to each of us. No one spoke as they read. A tear or two was brushed away.

Quiet is not a word that describes this boisterous family, but my mother-in-law rendered everyone speechless. These weren’t short messages, mind you. These cards spilled over with Shirley’s words. These were full-on love letters, filled with thanksgiving and praise for our Savior, for each of us.  

I counted a total of twenty-three squeezed in that small room: her children and spouses, grandchildren and spouses, great-grandchildren, and her sister. Everyone there who could read received a card.

Leaving a Legacy: A Gift Money Can’t Buy

A legacy is often thought of in terms of money. An inheritance. But there’s a legacy far more important than a financial legacy. The Bible makes it clear that leaving a spiritual legacy for our offspring is more important than leaving them material possessions. A gift money can’t buy.

"So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come."
(Psalm 71:18)
"Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children.
(Deuteronomy 4:9)

In these verses, the Bible teaches it’s better to build healthy virtues and good character in our kids and grandkids than leave them with financial gains. It’s better to show them God’s love and our love for God. By doing so, we point the generations to come to Him. And only with Him, will they find abundant life.

What a legacy I’ve watched Shirley weave for her offspring.

A Gift that Keeps on Giving

My sister-in-law is creating another legacy for her family. Brenda writes an individualized prayer she prays for each of her four grown children every year on their birthday. This is how her daughter Penny summarized it:

“I guess she started doing this ten or more years ago. When she gives us a birthday card, she usually starts it out with something like this, ‘Today, I pray this prayer for you.’ Then she writes down a long prayer for us.”

The prayer Penny shared is filled with thanksgiving for her and the family she’s creating; affirms her hard work and other virtues; and asks for God’s blessings and forgiveness to continue to pour into Penny’s life.

To say these prayers mean a lot to my nephew and nieces is an understatement.

In Proverbs, King Solomon writes specifically about a grandparent’s legacy.

Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren.

(Proverbs 13:22)

A Grandparent’s Legacy

Now that I’m a Grami, I’m thinking about the spiritual legacy I want to leave. What does this look like for grandparents? Modeling a godly life is important, but we have to be more intentional with how we share our faith as well as consider the ages of our grandkids.

Simple and Specific Suggestions For Sharing Our Faith with Grandkids

  • When we’re outside with grandkids or driving in a car, we can casually point out God’s beautiful creation: “Oh, look at these beautiful mountains God gave us.”
  • Show them prayer is a natural part of our day. Speak sentence prayers aloud: “Lord, help us find our destination.” “God, thank you for this delicious milkshake.”  “Thank you for watching over us during this thunderstorm, Father!”
  • If one mentions that a friend is sick, ask if they’d like you to pray a short prayer with them. If a classmate is having a difficult time at school, talk through how they can be a friend to him.

Just be natural, and don’t force anything.

My oldest grandchild just turned sixteen. Borrowing from my sister-in-law, Brenda, I wrote a prayer for him in his birthday card. I thanked God for him. I called him one of my greatest blessings in life. I acknowledged his talent and hard work with music. I asked God to continue to watch over him and direct his steps. I told him how much I loved him.

Sixteen seems a good age to receive such a card from Grami. But it could come earlier for the others. Thirteen, maybe? I think it depends on each individual. One thing is certain. As my mother-in-law’s Christmas cards showed me, our kids will never be too old to be impressed and touched by such a gift.

What spiritual legacy did someone in your family leave you that impacted your life for Christ? What suggestions do you have for passing on a spiritual legacy? I need more ideas.

The Bible teaches it’s better to build healthy virtues and good character in our kids and grandkids than leave them with financial gains.#legacy #grandparents Click To Tweet
“Legacy” 

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed Your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

As I wrote this, I was reminded of Christian artist Nichole Nordeman’s “Legacy[1] a long-time favorite. (Click Nichole Nordeman to enjoy the song.)

Thanks for reading and sharing!

Until next time,

Candyce


[1] Nordeman, Nichole, “Leave a Legacy.” Woven and Spun, 2002. Apple Music.

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18 Comments

  1. What an amazing gift and legacy. It is something I wast to strive for too. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story Candyce

  2. What a beautiful message, Candyce! I believe in writing letters to share our most heartfelt feelings and your family has shown us several wonderful examples of love–the lasting legacy of love. I don’t think any of you will forget this past Christmas. Since I’m a relatively new Grammy, I’m grateful for your insight as you share how you’re carrying on this legacy with your grandchildren. Thank you.

  3. Our spiritual legacy is the most important gift we can leave behind. It’s amazing how God works in our writing lives as I just submitted an article to my local newspaper that I write for about reevaluating our lives in this new year to examine the legacy and example we leave for others. I love the idea of writing prayers to our children and grandchildren. What a beautiful tradition this can be.

  4. I loved this post. A spiritual legacy is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I loved the message your mother-in-law hand crafted for all the members of your family. It’s a wonderful idea and took time, effort, and heart to do. Thank you for sharing this.

  5. I loved this post. A spiritual legacy for our grandkids is so on my heart, and in my thoughts lately. Your mother-in-law’s example really pushes me. I know that took thought, time and effort. Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Sylvia! I’m glad to hear that. It did take her time and effort for a lot of reasons. My m-i-l admitted sheepishly that she didn’t have money for gifts this year, so she did cards instead. Little did she know, her gift was far better than any amount of money she could put into a gift. But God knows.

      Thanks for your feedback. Leaving a legacy for my grandkids is on my mind too. I think it’s because life slows down for us as we mature and we have time to think about the more important things.

    1. Thanks, Debbie. I’m not sure she knows how much impact she’s had on her offspring. I think the same applies to all of us. We wonder if we’re making enough of a difference for God’s Kingdom, but I think we need to trust that the little things we do to create a legacy make a difference!

      Blessings!

  6. Leaving a spiritual legacy has always been important to me and I’m grateful for the way my parents brought me up and for the spiritual legacy they have passed on to me. I love the idea of writing a prayer/blessing in each year in family birthday cards and is something I shall definitely be doing from now on. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    1. Hi Vicki. Sounds like you had parents with their heart in the right place. May the future generations in your family continue to benefit from it.

      Blessings to you!

    1. Thanks, Kathy. I’ve only been a member of Shirley’s family for five years and she’s welcomed and included me from the beginning. Her letter really touched me.

      Hope life is going well!

  7. There’s nothing like a handwritten note is there Ms. Candyce. It seems the art of letter writing has passed away, but when you take the time to hand write anything today it can leave a powerful impression. As I think of legacy, I think of my adopted mom and dad. Both are awaiting me in heaven, but I see the legacy they left behind in the lives of their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I’m certain of little my literary friend, but I feel confident in stating that you are leaving a wonderful legacy of faith for your family and friends. God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. Handwritten notes of expression are rare these days. I think that’s why my mother-in-law’s gesture was so stunning and appreciated. And her age. It shows we’re never too old to impact the younger generations, (Psalm 71:18) no matter how irrelevant we feel sometimes.

      Blessings to you and yours!

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