Our attitudes and actions will become our legacy

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By The Staff

Remember this name: Mordecai Ham. I’ll tell you at the end who he is.

Meanwhile, let me tell you about Phil Munsey, a guy I heard on the radio the other day.

He wrote a book last year called “Legacy Now: Why Everything About You Matters.”

The point of his book is that big or small, everything in our lives matters and everything we do has eternal consequences.

It’s similar to something called the butterfly effect whereby the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can create tiny changes in the atmosphere that could lead to a large-scale change, such as altering the path of a tornado.

Munsey was saying that the concept of “Legacy Now” is two-fold. He mentioned the negative, what some call generational sins. For example, a man whose father abused his wife is more likely to abuse his own wife. Or a daughter of an abusive dad is likely to marry an abusive man. Alcoholic parents often beget alcoholic children and grandchildren. Children of divorce are more apt to divorce when they marry. We pass our tendencies down through the generations.

Munsey said that doesn’t have to be, however. God often intervenes and breaks the cycle in a family and sets them on a new path. We can choose to go a different way.

The second aspect of “Legacy Now” is affecting future generations positively, not just on earth, but for eternity.

“Your life is more than a chain of events; it’s part of a chain that links you to the eternal purpose of God,” Munsey said.

He told the radio host that he’s come to realize how great and grand God’s purpose is for us and that everything we do has weighty consequences. (Think butterfly wings.)

I remember the year we had a “no name” storm that destroyed a number of coastal homes here in central Florida. I went to see a man from church who needed help but I got there too late. Others had already torn out his soggy drywall and pulled up his wet carpeting.

So, as Joe sat at his desk not saying anything, I chattered mindlessly, pulling apart sheets of wet stamps, telling him how he could reuse them with a drop of glue.

Poor Joe was so overwhelmed and all I could do was blather about stamps. I went home feeling like a moron.

Weeks later I learned that he had told everybody how much I had helped him that day. That he had been almost in despair, but his turning point came when I stopped to talk to him and peel his wet stamps.

Joe went on to influence many young local businessmen in the area — a real force for the kingdom of God. What if he had chosen to give up that day?

What I did for Joe was accidental. I think God mostly uses our unaware acts of kindness so we don’t get big heads.

However, Munsey said, we also need to be deliberate in how we live and to make choices and decisions that will affect those around us toward faith and hope, pointing and encouraging them toward Jesus and eternity.

“Legacy is organizing the way you live your life so that you will be a blessing to other people for generations to come,” he said. It’s living to affect the outcome of the grander story.

So, it matters that you and I bring our children to church, that families pray together, that we not yell at idiot drivers. It matters that we deal honestly in our business, work hard, listen well.

It matters that I not gossip, backbite and complain. That I forgive and ask others to forgive me. Whether you and I do these things or not, our actions and attitudes will be passed on. They will become our legacy.

As for Mordecai Ham, he was an evangelist who preached at a revival meeting in Charlotte, N.C. in 1934. It’s not known how many people were converted by his preaching, but we do know the name of one young man named Billy — Billy Graham.

And as the late Paul Harvey would say, now you know the rest of the story.

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via e-mail at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.