“Legacy Over Happiness”
Pt. 1 of the Series: “Outlasters”
February 10, 2019
Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands.
2 Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever. 4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. 5 Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. 6 Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. 7 They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. 8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. 9 They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor.
People today don’t want to talk about death. It seems that there are more and more atheists and agnostics out there who pride themselves in not being concerned about death, not being concerned about eternity, about being concerned only about the here and now. But, even people who do believe in God, even good Christian people, are not so much concerned about death, they are not so much concerned about tomorrow, because they are too busy doing life in the here and now. They are too busy making money or building a career or making a name for themselves that life is a hand to mouth deal. It is all about the here and now.
- People Today are Not Concerned about Tomorrow. They are Concerned about the Here and Now
As parents, we are so concerned about giving our kids what they desire for the here and now-- the best education, the neatest after school activities, those $200 tennis shoes--that we aren’t so concerned about the future, about what comes next, about those precious few things that we want our kids to gain from us over the course of our life time. As business leaders, we are so concerned about getting that product out there, capturing a niche in the market, making money for the company, we are so concerned with the day in and day out that we don’t consider what happens to the business when we are gone, about those values that we inculcate into the business that will make the business last beyond our time at the helm. As regular workers in that business, we go to work, put in our 8 hours, come home, make supper, feed the dog, watch TV, go to bed, only to wake up and do it again tomorrow. But, seldom do we think about the long term, about the meaning of life, about what we want to pass on to the next generation. It is day in and day out. It is about the here and now.
- Is it a generational thing?
Some of you are part of the Builder generation, those born between 1925 and 1945. What happens tomorrow was important to you. Long term savings was important to Builders. Retirement plans were important. So was loyalty to an organization. Savings for that proverbial rainy day, was natural. You paid cash, not credit. Then, the next generation worked for companies that had your retirement plans wiped out. Some tried setting up their own retirement plans, while others found it easier to buy on credit, satisfying the short term needs. Today with Generation Y and Z, purchasing by credit is commonplace, sometimes wracking up hefty credit card debt, at what 18-25% interest or higher, impulse purchases are in vogue and many, coming out of college with substantial student loans, consider that debt a necessary evil. What do they do? They center their lives on the here and now.
- It goes beyond money
How many of us think about the future? How many of us take the time to think about some of the deeper things of life? How many of us aren’t just absolutely exhausted at the end of the day? We are so busy parenting or building a company or working that we don’t think about the overall meaning of life, we don’t think about what we are passing down to the next generation, what we want to make sure our children and grandchildren know from us. I always like that principle Stephen Covey has in his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” to “Begin with the end in mind.” He urges thinking about how you will end up, what you want to be known for, what values and beliefs are important to you—that’s the end--and then arranging your life here and now to meet those goals. That is long term thinking. How many of us have stopped to think about those things? Don’t we just kind of run our lives on auto pilot, reactive to the next challenge of the day? So, what is it that guides us in how we parent, or what we spend money on, or the concerns of Generation Y and Z on the here and now? Truth be told, isn’t it happiness?
- People today are motivated by a pursuit of happiness
We pursue happiness. We give our kids those $200 tennis shoes and we run them ragged with after school activities because we want them to be happy. We think if we can give them stuff, they will be happy. Yet, stuff really won’t make them happy. Or, we think that making money will make us happy. We try to get all we can. We think, “If I only made this much one day, I’d be happy.” Then one day we manage to make that much and are we happy? No. We want just a little bit more. Studies have shown that 5 years after winning the lottery, lottery winners are not any more happy than before they won. Yet, people keep buying those lottery tickets. Maybe the state ought to find a different way to pay for the budget. Or, better yet, maybe the state ought to live within the means of the budget. I’m just saying. But, I digress. Or, we think if only we had somebody different we’d be happy. So, we trade in one spouse for another. But, we’re still not happy. Do you know why? It is because we take our unhappy selves into the next relationship. Our unhappy self is still with us. Or, we think that if we had more power or more popularity or more Facebook friends or more Instagram likes or more Twitter followers or more people at school or a different car, if we had those things, we’d be happy. So, we pursue happiness. We pursue the short term. We get to the end of a day and we rate it a good day if we are happy. But, happiness is so short term and it is so elusive. Yet, we pursue it for all we’re worth. And, because of that, we usually don’t have time to think about the long term. We don’t take time to think about those things that are most important in life. We don’t take time to think about what it is that we want to pass down to the next generation, those things that we want to pass down to our children and our grandchildren, to the kids we coach on the baseball team, or the girl scouts that are in our scout troupe. We are only concerned with the here and now. We do life on auto pilot. We are only concerned with happiness.
- Yet, some people are concerned about tomorrow
Now, there are some who do have a concern for tomorrow. Some of those people think about tomorrow because they want to be remembered. Maybe that’s what tombstones are all about. Maybe a tombstone is an attempt to be remembered for eternity. So, we can go to a graveyard and see pieces of granite into which is carved a person’s name, and birth and death dates, and sometimes something they want to be remembered by, like; “Here lies Drew, raised four beautiful daughters with only one bathroom and still there was love,” or, in huge letters, “He loved Bacon,” then is small letters underneath, “Oh, and his wife and kids, too,” or my favorite, “Here lies an atheist, all dressed up and no place to go.” There are some who do think about tomorrow but for the express purpose that they want to be remembered.
There are some who try to live on beyond their lives write a book or a song or they get their name on a building. Yet, how many authors or lyricists are remembered beyond a couple of weeks much less for decades or even centuries? And, even if we do get our name on a building—how many of us will ever have that happen—does that make up who we are? George Eastman built an empire and his name is known throughout Rochester. But, what do you really know about the man; his beliefs, his values? Don’t those things better define a person?
There are some who are concerned with passing something down to the next generation but so often that is in the form of a will. So often that has to do with passing down money or stuff. But, again, is that what is most important to pass down to the next generation? We might give our kids a million dollars in our will, but how long will that last? And, does that get at the really important stuff, the eternal stuff? And, so we live our 70 +/- years and the kids are raised and the money is gone and the career is over we die and within a generation or two, we are forgotten. People have forgotten our name much less what we accomplished.
But, the question I want to raise with you is this; Is there a way that we can live on, is there a way we can have an impact not just on the here and now, but on generations to come? Is there a way that we can pass down to our kids and grandkids, and maybe the girl scouts, or kids on a baseball team that we are leading, is there a way to pass down to the next generation, those things that will impact them in a long lasting way? The question I want to raise is; when our parenting days are over, have we given our kids what they really need for the future, things that will last even beyond their lives? Or, we’ve built a business and we’ve made money, we’ve worked for 40 years and we get to the end of that time and we look back. The question I want to raise is; are we passing down to the next generation something that is really important, something that will really last? The question we are going to deal with in this series is this;
- Is There a Way to Live Beyond Ourselves?
Is there a way that we can address the longer term, to be less concerned with happiness and more concerned with more impactful things like values and beliefs? Is there a way we can outlast our lives, where we can live beyond our lives, where we can be outlasters? That is the title of this series and that is what we are going to be talking about, how we can be outlasters. You see,
- This is about leaving a legacy
What legacy do you want to leave? I hear politicians speak of legacy a lot. I hear Bill Clinton speak of the legacy he wants to leave. I hear Barak Obama refer to the same thing which may be another reason why Democrats are so miffed at Donald Trump because he is systematically destroying Barak Obama’s legacy. Maybe it is because I am 65 years old, maybe it is because I am nearing retirement that I chose to do this series. Maybe it is that I am thinking about my legacy. But, let me be clear;
- You don’t have to wait until you are 65 to do this
Any age is a good time to think about your legacy. You young parents, this is an excellent time to think about your legacy, what you want to pass down to your kids. Any age, young or old, is a good time to be thinking about legacy. And, let me be clear about another thing;
- Leaving a legacy goes well beyond being remembered
It goes well beyond being remembered and it goes well beyond being famous and it goes well beyond passing on money. When I speak about leaving a legacy, when I speak from my own personal perspective, let me be clear that when it comes to my legacy, I am not at all concerned about people remembering my name. I have no desire to have my name engraved on a room to enshrine my name for perpetuity. As a pastor, I am not concerned about people 50 years from now remembering that Risen Christ had this pastor named Deknatel for 24 years. Frankly, I am enough of a realist to know that I will be forgotten in the not so distant future. As an example, my grandfathers are nothing more than a name to Matthew. Their names will be totally forgotten to my grandchildren, Audrey and Anthony. My name may appear in some church annals as having been the pastor here but 50 years from now, no one will remember me. I am enough of a realist to recognize that my name will be forgotten. And, that is okay with me.
Leaving a legacy goes well beyond being remembered. I want my legacy to go much deeper than that. As a dad and as a grandfather, I want to leave something far deeper. I want to leave my son and grandchildren and this church with principles and values and beliefs that will guide them throughout their lives and which they, in turn, will pass on to their children and their children’s children. I can leave my son money in a will and I can leave my son a love for sports and a commitment to the Orioles. Matthew can even pass those things down to Anthony and Audrey and when I am dead and gone, Matthew can remind his children that their grandfather will haunt them if they end up being Yankee rooters. Leaving a legacy goes well beyond being remembered and it goes well beyond being famous or passing down money in a will. I want my legacy to be things that are far deeper. So,
- What is a Truly Lasting Legacy that can be Passed Down?
You see, a truly lasting legacy is about passing down who you are, the essence of what makes up you, and for a Christian, the first and most important thing that makes up you, the most important thing you can pass on to the next generation is your faith.
- A truly lasting legacy has to do with passing down faith
You can have a passion for baseball and pass down how to throw and hit a ball. You can build a business, make a lot of money and pass down that business. You can write a will and pass down a lot of money. And, there is nothing wrong with these things. But, as I have been trying to say, these things don’t last. What lasts can be found in our Psalm for today.
“Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. 2 Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed” Psalm 112:1-2
That is the first and foremost thing I can pass down to my grandchildren. That is the most important thing I can leave you, my congregation, with. (Gee, that sounds like I’ve got one foot out of the door already.) The most important thing I can pass down is faith in the Lord Jesus. The most important thing I can pass down is that God looked on us, sinners that we are, and He loved us. I want Anthony and Audrey to know that God loves them. I want to leave that with you, that Jesus loves you and that Jesus died for you to take away your sins. I want to leave my grandchildren and my church with that amazing, grace-filled fact that there is not one thing you can do to have God love you anymore than He already does and there is not one thing you can do to have God love you any less. God just loves you and sent Jesus to die for you. I want my grandchildren to know that in the bottom of their hearts and I want whoever I have touched here at Risen Christ to know that. I don’t care if you remember me. For that matter, forget me. But do not ever forget Jesus. Paul, in speaking about all of the ways he could have been remembered, all of the righteous things he had done, this is the legacy Paul wanted to leave;
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” Philippians 3:7-8a
You see, if I can pass that down to my grandchildren, if, as a pastor, I can pass that down to you, I have just impacted the next generation in an eternal way. Not only will my grandchildren enjoy an eternity with Jesus—and with their grandfather and grandmother—but, they will be able to pass that down to their next generation and impact that generation in an eternal way, too. Our names will be forgotten, but Christ’s name will not. I will outlast my life in an eternal way.
You parents and grandparents, you who are aunts and uncles, you Sunday School teachers and Preschool teachers, you who care for children in any way, what greater legacy can you have than giving the next generation Jesus? Think of it this way; is there anything that a parent would not do for their children? As a parent, would you withhold any good thing from them? If your child needed a kidney and you were a perfect match, would you not gladly give it to them? You know you would. If your child needed a heart transplant and you were a perfect match, would you not give your child your heart? You would indeed give up your life so that your child could live. Would you not do whatever you could do so that your child would enjoy good physical health? Physical health is important. But, something so much more important is their spiritual health. Physical health, at best, will last them a lifetime. Spiritual health will last them an eternity. You can give your child all the money in the world, but if you don’t give your children and grandchildren, if you don’t give that next generation Jesus, you have failed. I like the way one pastor paraphrased Matthew 16:24. He wrote; “For what profit is it to you if your child does excellent on the SAT’s, and loses his soul? For what profit is it to you if your child goes to medical school, and loses his soul? For what profit is it to you if your child becomes worldly, leaves the church and loses his soul?”  Why would you not want to do that as a parent? Why would you not want to leave that for the next generation? Pastor Craig Groeschel frames it this way;
Why, after all you’ve experienced, after all the grace you’ve been given, after all the blessings that God has done in your life – why would you keep that to yourself, and not pass the faith along, to tell a four-year-old, who may not hear it at home, just how much God loves them? To reach out to a 15-year-old that may not have a father figure, and be an image of a godly man in the life of a teenager? To come along a single mom who’s trying her best to raise three kids, while working two jobs, and be a supporting voice into her life, to show her kids the love of God, and help lift them up to become more than she has the strength to do on her own? To come along other Christian parents, and to speak life and truth into their children, because sometimes what they say has less credibility than what someone outside the home says? To light up the next generation? 
Psalm 112 sets it straight right from the get go. Notice that the author of the Psalm speaks of a faith that is passed down.
“Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. 2 Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed” Psalm 112:1-2
The author also says; “Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever.” This is not referring to money. It is referring to a different kind of wealth, to spiritual wealth. The ones who fear the Lord will have an eternal wealth that no one can imagine. A truly lasting legacy has to do with passing down faith and
- A truly lasting legacy has to do with passing down Godly values
The Psalm tells of this;
“Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.” Psalm 112:4
There are 3 values the Psalm speaks of; to be gracious, compassionate and righteous. What would it mean for the next generation if what we passed down to them is irrational generosity? What would it mean that they can be generous to others? And, what would it mean to the next generation if it is passed down to them that they are compassionate, that they can look on other people with compassion in their hearts for them? What would it mean to not just look with compassion on the economically disadvantaged, but what would it mean if we can pass down to the next generation the compassion for the lost and wayward? What if they can look on others as Jesus did the people, to see them “as harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36. What if we can pass down the legacy that all people are loved by God and that we are to touch their lives by that love. And, what would happen if we could pass down to the next generation, to our kids and grandchildren, that they are to be righteous? What would it mean if you can pass down the need to be set apart, different from the culture around them, living for Jesus? What would it mean if you were to pass down values like those? Listen to how the Psalm writer says it;
“ Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. 6 Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. 7 They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. 8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. 9 They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor.” Psalm 112:5-9
These are just three Godly values that you can pass down to the next generation. There can and should be more. There are values that are a part of you, deep values, good values, Godley values that can outlast you. They need to be passed on. That’s how you can outlast yourself. That is how you can be an outlaster. So, here are some
- Things to Do to Pass Down a Godly Legacy
- Think carefully about what you want to pass down
I urge you to take some time and think about the faith and the Godly values you want to pass down. Begin with the end in mind. Think about what are the most important things to pass down to the next generation. Being intentional about making your faith and your values those things you want to pass down will impact what you do with your children and grandchildren right now. I urge you to think about these things. Write them down. There should only be 4 or 5 values that you want to pass down. But, decide on them. Talk to your spouse about them. Nail those suckers. Second,
- Know that your legacy is both taught and caught
Psalm 112 speaks of internal stuff. It is speaking about things that are owned deep down. If honesty is something you want to pass down as a legacy and you aren’t honest, that ain’t a gonna work. It is taught and caught, which means that you need to pay attention to what you pass down. If your faith is important to pass down to the next generation, then you need to be intentional about keeping your faith strong. If honesty is a value you want to pass down to the next generation, then you need to be sure that you are honest in all of your dealings. Then, the next generation will see that in you.
When your faith and your values are that important to you that you want to pass them down as your legacy, then they will ooze from your spiritual pores. Then, spending time with your children and grandchildren will afford them the opportunity to not only be taught, to be told that this is an important value, but it will be caught, they will see you live it out. Just spending time with the next generation will be part of what it means to leave a lasting legacy with them.
So, if I would give you a homework assignment this week, could I ask you to think on this stuff. Could I ask you to be recognize how important passing down the faith is and could I ask you to give it a try to identify your spiritual values that you want to pass on. Set those things apart. Get it clear. Get to what the end goal is all about, what that spiritual legacy is all about and then you can begin with the end in mind. Then, you can pass down stuff that will last longer than you last. Then, you can be an outlaster.
In Jesus’ name,