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We hear this word now and then, but what does it really mean?

‘He left a lasting legacy’ often eulogizes dead politicians and wealthy people, referring to the changes they made in society, or their contributions to charitable foundations.

But did you know that you are creating your children’s legacy every day?

Legacy refers not only to the wealth we leave for our descendants, or what we do to affect or change society, it refers to whatever we leave for our children.

We leave emotional and spiritual legacies far more often than we leave financial ones.

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If you’ve been in church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the scripture verses about the sins of the fathers being passed down to the nth generation. And that’s certainly true. Whatever habits we establish, whatever sins we become slaves to, whatever lies we believe about God will get passed down to our children and to their children, and theirs, etc.

But the opposite is also true! (Thank God!!) Whatever truths we embrace, whatever habits we cultivate, whatever virtues we live, will get passed down as well.

And this works across all the facets! Good habits of physical health get passed down. Bad habits regarding the saving or spending of money get passed down. Habits of hiding your emotions, or allowing them to spew out over everyone in sight, get passed down too. Relationship patterns are handed down, and many other beliefs, patterns and behaviors.

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Our culture encourages us to think only about ourselves, and only as far as next year’s vacation. So, few of us deliberately set out to create a legacy for our children. We’re too busy ‘spending their inheritance’ (to quote a bumper sticker). I don’t mean we are spending money that could be invested in their future (although that might certainly be a part of it). What we are doing is spending our energy and time in ways and on things that create a poor future for them.

How much time do we invest each day in our children’s future? Do we listen to their worries, dreams, ideas, concerns? Do we teach them what we know about money, cooking,  yard work, or getting along with others? Are we showing them how to have a relationship with God, and with a spouse?

Truthfully, you are building all those things every day, whether you spend time at them or not. Even the ignoring of certain elements of life builds a foundation in children.

What are you creating as the legacy your children will build their lives on?

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Recently, Father God has been showing me the legacy I received from my parents. There was no money, no stocks or real estate, left to me, but my parents’ legacy to me is better than I thought. The core value of giving that my Mom instilled is so strong that I can’t stand not being able to give. The practical stuff they taught me about how to use tools, fix things, figure out how to do something, is invaluable. The entrepreneurship that my Dad exhibited by selling stuff at the flea market every weekend for several years is actually already being built on by my children. So many things they laid down for me to use!

And yes, we’ve spent quite some time looking at the negative things they laid down, too. Poverty thinking, bad spending patterns, worth issues, have all come under God’s hands to be restored, repaired, changed, or tossed out.

The really cool thing is that, as I get free of the bad parts of my legacy, my children are set free too! In fact, I’ve learned to specifically pray for these things to be changed in me, my children, their children, and theirs, all the way to the end of history. And I see change in them almost immediately in many areas!

My children are all grown, so don’t think it’s too late to change the legacy you are leaving them. If you ask Father God to show you ways to improve that legacy, He will!

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As we enter this new year, this new decade, may you take the time to examine the legacy you are leaving for your children and their children.

May Father God reveal to you what needs to be changed, what doesn’t, and how you can begin to deliberately lay a good foundation for your family’s future in every facet.

May this be the year you build with gold and precious gems, rather than ‘wood, hay and stubble’.

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