“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13)
I have always admired my grandfather. Now approaching 102 years, he still seems lively as ever, always eager to share stories or have an engaging discussion about life and current events. Every time I visit him and look around his apartment, I am always taken with all the signs of a full life of accomplishment and inspiration that present themselves.
Isidore Starr, or Iz, as most call him, taught law for over 50 years and is an authority on the Constitution. He has authored several books, helped found the nationally recognized Law Related Education program in Texas, and participated in legal education workshops all over the country even well into his retirement. Various plaques on his wall commemorate his contributions to numerous schools and programs, honorary citizenship in 4 states, and even a proclamation by the Governor of Colorado of November 22, 1986 as Isidore Starr Day.
But beyond all his achievements, my grandfather is a humble, supportive and encouraging man. His passion for educating others was and still is clearly evident in everything he does, and he always tries to be there to help guide and help those he loves. People whose lives he has touched always have heartfelt stories to tell about him. As for me, I cannot begin to describe all he has given me over the years. He helped me through many difficult times, and always pushed me and inspired me to pursue my goals. He was always there to listen to me, providing both motivation and constructive criticism when I needed it.
My grandfather is still in relatively good health, and I hope he has many years yet. Even after he is gone, I know he will be remembered for his giving and dedication to teaching, reaching out, sharing great knowledge, inspiring others. He raised my father well, and instilled the same values in him, which in turn helped shape me into the man I am today.
Whether or not we intend it or are even aware of it, we will all leave our own legacy behind. Our lives will be defined by how we use and share our knowledge and gifts, and ultimately, how we love. In the books of Kings and Chronicles, whenever a new king is introduced, the first thing mentioned is always whether he did what was right or evil in the eyes of the Lord. Some kings have far more notable records than others, but their deeds each fell from their attitude toward God. Paul describes the kind of legacy we ought to strive for as he first addresses the Thessalonians: “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3)
It may sound like a tough act to follow, especially when we are trying to succeed in our careers or simply make ends meet financially, but it really shouldn’t. The question is not will we be remembered, but how will we be remembered. Even if we live in relative obscurity, our lives will inevitably intersect with others and touch them somehow. As long as we love Jesus and are willing to follow wherever He leads, the defining deeds will follow. He knows what we are capable of, and will provide what we need to carry out our calling. Therefore we have a responsibility as followers of Jesus, to be vessels of His love and carriers of His message. We must trust Him with all our hearts, and let our faith lead us to action. That foundation will define our interactions, and how others see and remember us. If we become parents, this responsibility includes inspiring our children to develop this same faith.
My grandfather’s legacy will always be part of me, and I hope I too will be remembered by my passion for sharing and inspiring others in my own way and passing that on to another generation. But the first and foremost thing I want my legacy to state is that my heart was in Jesus Christ.
Daniel can be reached via email here.