If you died tomorrow, would your obituary be worth reading or would you have accomplished anything worthwhile to pass on to the next generation? These questions lead us to consider our legacy. The first definition that Webster provides for a legacy is, "a gift by will especially of money or other personal property." However, since the concept of a legacy originated from the mind of God, we should look to God who says "'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the LORD. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11) Every person has a unique gift given by God, which has much to do with our prescribed work here on earth. It not only will solidify our identity and purpose, but will also be worthwhile, to the extent that future generations can be inspired and driven to establish their own legacy. Below is my feeble attempt at compiling four keys to building a legacy (from a man's perspective): worship, work, woman, and wealth.
1. Worship (God)
This does not say attend church, but form a real, intimate relationship with the creator through Jesus Christ. Don't make this more churchy than it has to be. We are all worshipping something: whatever we give our time, energy and resources to, but worshipping God is where we find strength, wisdom, and so much more that we need to navigate through life. Life will throw so much in our path that's unexpected and we need guidance from a pure, non-biased, and true source to find our way. This won't come from another flawed person dealing with their own problems, but from God himself. Everything good and perfect comes from God, but he will only truly reward those who diligently seek him. When it comes to seeking God, we only will get out what we put in; whether that's glancing at the verse of the day on an app or carving out quiet time each morning, the internal rewards are based on our desire to seek Him. God has declared so much to be ours, as his children, but we still have to go out and fight for it in the same way that the children of Israel, crossing the Jordan River into the promised land, had to overcome those who occupied that land. The whole concept of a legacy is passing the torch to the next person destined for possession, and we want to pass on blessings and not curses to our next generation.
2. Work (household, church, community)
Worship deals with the inner man, and once the inner man is in right standing with God, we can allow the God in us to overflow into the work that we do. When God created the heavens and the earth, it was work. Likewise, when God created Adam, before sin entered the earth and before he brought Eve to him, Adam was working. There is something sacred about our work! What we choose to do with our time has much to do with our inner convictions. As men (and women), our work isn't just what we clock in to do from 9-5, although in the most optimal circumstances, it can be. Work has more to do with that which we are passionate about, things in our world that we can change for the better. There is much work to be done in our households, in our churches, and within our communities, but we must commit to it wholeheartedly while we still have breath in our lungs because when our time on earth is up, that’s it! What we have accomplished (or not accomplished) will be cemented into our legacies, passed on to future generations, and will define us even after we're gone. What we are remembered as and known by has a lot to do with our work here on earth, and we have less time today than we did yesterday: get to work!
3. Woman (life partnership)
From a man's perspective, a family can't be established without a good woman, so as men we need to find one! Now the point of finding a woman shouldn't be getting her in the bedroom, but more importantly, the goal should be coming into a lifelong covenant relationship, whereby children can blossom to their fullest potential. Sex is not a bad thing, in fact it is a very beautiful thing; however, the enemy of our souls seeks to take everything that is good, perfect and sent by God, and pervert it to something outside of its God-given purpose. After our relationship is established with God and our life work has begun to take shape, the next priority of a man should be to find a woman whose life is on the same frequency and committing to that woman. This doesn't mean controlling, manipulating or using her for our own selfish desires, but it means loving her and understanding that God has equipped her with a unique skillset to be life partners to us as men: amplifying the highs and mitigating the lows of life. Men, find a woman and love her to death! This is a vital part of establishing a legacy.
4. Wealth preservation (investment and offspring)
We brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out of it, so as men we must establish a means to pass on the fruits of our labor to the next generation. This fourth key to establishing a legacy is most similar to the world's definition, but it's most certainly linked to the 2nd and 3rd keys as well. We cannot generate wealth in this world without work, and we cannot pass on that wealth to the next generation without offspring within a family structure. There are many vehicles to establishing wealth: emergency savings, an employer-sponsored 401k, an IRA, 529 college savings accounts, real estate investments, businesses, etc. There is an aspect of financial literacy that must be achieved in order to do this fourth step successfully and we live in a world where information is at the click of a button. We have no excuse for not knowing and learning how to hold on to the money that we earn for a greater purpose. African Americans, in particular, have had the burden of starting from scratch with the dawn of each generation. At some point we have to reverse the cycle of passing on poor economics to our offspring. Even without children, there are organizations that we can contribute our life's earnings to upon our demise to ensure that we leave a lasting legacy that impacts the future positively.
Knowing and devoting a life to God, finding meaningful work, building a family to cultivate healthy children, and preserving wealth are my four keys to building a lasting legacy. This is a lifelong journey, a marathon and it cannot be completed overnight. We must be diligent about how we live our lives in the present. As a 30-yea- old man, I reflect on my time here on earth and see ways that I have wasted precious time, energy, and resources, but by the grace of God I believe I'm on the right track. Hopefully this blog post can help and inspire someone else seeking to find their way through the intricacies of life to establish a legacy. Keep God first and build a legacy that will last beyond your existence. Like, comment, and share this post and let me know if ways in which you are working to establish a lasting legacy.
Joshua Enlow is a Wichita, Kansas native. He’s a husband and father of two boys, and loves
spending time with his family. Josh graduated from Wichita State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. While in school, he served in the Kansas Air National guard, where he worked at McConnell AFB and was introduced to Information Technology (IT), earning his Associates in Applied Sciences from the Community College of the Air Force.
Josh currently works in IT for Flint Hills Resources, a Koch company, as a senior infrastructure analyst. He’s also very active within his church, The Bibleway Community of Faith, where he serves on the leadership team.
Joshua is the CEO and founder of ProTech, an IT support and computer services company. One thing he’s passionate about as an entrepreneur is education for youth in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). His company launched the ProTech STEM Pipeline as a community initiative to expose underrepresented youth to these high-potential career fields.
You can connect with Joshua on Linkedin, Instagram and Twitter.