What Is a Legacy?
About the Guest
- Louis Upkins encourages men not to neglect their families while they’re climbing the career ladder. https://www.familylife.com/podcast/series/treat-me-like-a-customer/
- Bryan Loritts entire talk on prayer the the FamilyLife 40th Anniversary from 2017. (MP3 30.5 MB) https://web.familylifetoday.com/special/Bryan-Loritts-Prayer-FamilyLife-40th-anniversary.mp3
- Learn more about becoming a Legacy Partner, a monthly supporter of FamilyLife. https://www.familylife.com/legacy
What will be left in your wake when you are gone? Louis Upkins, Crawford Loritts, and Bryan Loritts talk about different kinds of legacies, and challenge us to make sure to leave a legacy that’s godly.
Michelle: I'm not trying to be morbid here, but have you ever thought through who will be at your funeral and why? Here's Louis Upkins.
Louis: I was just at a funeral of a highly-successful business guy. In the front, they had a collage of all of his kind of significant moments—the first McDonald's he opened, the first BMW he drove, and all of these trappings; and there wasn't one person crying at his funeral except his 13-year-old son—he was the only person crying. This kid is crying because he didn't get what all these other people got. It was just a check-off-the-box moment for these business leaders; but it was a legacy, and that child is going to mourn because of the absence of his father.
Michelle: We'll be talking about how to leave a rich and robust inheritance—the inheritance of a godly legacy—on this edition of FamilyLife This Week. Stay tuned.
Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. Have you ever thought about the stuff you're going to pass down to the next generation? What about the stuff that's been passed on to you?—well, there's your eye color, and your hair color, and the shape of your nose, and your body type—basically, your DNA. Oh, wait! We're not watching CSI or a forensics show right now; are we?
So, go back to the things that are true of you—the things that you pass on to your children. Let's take a moment and think through the things that, maybe, someone has passed on to you. Your friends and family—they are gathered around a conference room table in an attorney's office—okay; we all know that the gatherings don't happen anymore to read the wills, but it's more dramatic; so just go with me on this!
You're biting your fingernails, because it would be nice to, you know, have some extra money to upgrade some things in your house. And you know that Aunt Thelma—she thought really highly of you—or maybe it's just that bureau in her entry way. Hey, I have claimed a nice bookcase in my parents’ house already—just so you know.
But what if, at the reading of the will, she leaves you integrity, character, or an example of a faithful walk with God? Now, that's what we should call a rich, and full, and robust inheritance; it's a godly legacy, and it's where a life lives on.
We just heard, a minute ago, from Louis Upkins. Louis—he knows what legacy is all about. It's how he's tried to live his life personally and, also, professionally. He's an entrepreneur, an author, and a speaker. He's worked on projects for Starbucks, UPS, and many other Fortune 500 companies.
In an interview with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine in the FamilyLife® Studios, he shared what was most important when the coffin sits in the front of the church and the people are all gathered around. Here's Louis.
[Previous FamilyLife Today® Broadcast]
Louis: I was just at a funeral of a highly-successful business guy. I, actually, was grieved as I sat in the funeral; because, in the front, they had a collage of all of his kind of significant moments—the first McDonald's he opened; you know, the first BMW he drove; and all these trappings. As people came in—you know, major politicians/major business leaders—everybody kind of walked in with this spirit of: “Let me check it off the box,”—you know—“I’ve got 15 minutes. Let me walk in and be seen and, then, leave.” It was almost like “Business as usual.”
There wasn't one person crying in this funeral except his 13-year-old son—he was the only person crying. What I felt in my spirit, as I watched that kid was: “This kid is crying because he didn't get what all these other people got. Everybody else got all of his time—they had him on every kind of committee, serving on every kind of board. Yes, he had all the accolades about being a great business leader, community leader, etc.; but yet, at the end of the day, it was just a check-off-the-box moment for these business leaders; but it was legacy and it was impact for that child; and that child is going to mourn because of the absence of his father.
Dennis: That's an incredible illustration. Yesterday morning, I read this passage from Psalm 112, and these two verses are my life verses: “Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments. His offspring will be mighty in the land. The generation of the upright will be blessed.”
Dennis: There's more to a legacy than how much of an inheritance you leave your kids.
Louis: Absolutely; and that reminds me, Dennis, of—I think God has allowed me to see one of the most powerful glimpses of my legacy in my son, Caleb, who was seven at the time. I'd been out of town—I had been away on business; came home. Caleb comes downstairs, and he looks like he's seen a ghost.
I said, “Caleb! What’s wrong, son?” He said, “Dad, God just spoke to me.” He had never used these words before; and I said, “What do you mean, son?” My wife Charita—she was preparing for bed. She said: “Boy! Go to bed. You’re just trying to stay up, because your dad's been out of town!” [Laughter]
Bob: Playing the God-card!
Dennis: He’s using God!
Louis: She's like, “You’re just trying to work your dad!” I said, “No, hold on; hold on for a second, honey. Hold up.” I said: “Caleb, come here for a second. Tell me what—tell me what God said.” He gets really close to me, Dennis; and he said, “Dad, He told me that they're going to be five homeless men that are on the sidewalk right now. He wants me to go feed them. They're going to be asleep, and He wants me to go feed them.”
I said, “Okay.” I'm sitting up in my—in my bed now, because this is a significant moment. I said, “Caleb, you’re going to learn a valuable lesson tonight.” I said, “When God speaks, you listen and you move.” He said, “Dad”—he said—“Immediately!” He took my hand and put it on his chest. It was just pounding [thumping hand on chest] like he had been running a race. I said, “Okay, Caleb.” I said, “Do me a favor, son.” I said, “Go get dressed.” Now, it's about 11:15; and my wife is looking at me like, “You idiot!” I mean—
Louis: And so I said, “Go get dressed, son.” I sit up, and he goes and he gets dressed. He comes down; and I said, “Caleb, what are we going to feed them?” He said, “Well, I'll go get my food.” He goes into the kitchen—gets all of his lunchroom food—he didn't take anything else except the stuff that he takes to school for lunch: bottled water and all this different stuff. He comes back, and he has a big garbage bag; and he has it loaded up with food.
He says, “It’s going to be five men, Dad.” And I said, “Okay.” I said, “Okay, son; we're on our way to see a valuable lesson.” We get in the car. Now it's 11:30. We pull out the back of the neighborhood; it's 19 degrees that night—it’s the coldest night in Nashville. We drive all the way to downtown Nashville—that's 45 minutes from where we live—and there's not a soul on the street.
I look in the back as soon as we get on the main road. I look in the back, and Caleb is sound asleep! I said: “Caleb! What are you doing, man?! You going to go to sleep on me?” He said, “Dad, I’ll wake up when we get there.” [Laughter] I'm driving all the way to downtown; and I'm thinking, “Okay; I'll just go.” I go all the way into downtown, and I see these three people on a park bench. I make a turn and pull over and start giving them food—they’re: “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus!”
Dennis: Now, was Caleb awake at this point?
Louis: Yes; he’s awake at this point.
Dennis: So he's helping you pass out the food?
Louis: No; he's just looking. I give them the food; and I'm thinking to myself, “Caleb said there were five.” I go all the way down to the riverfront and begin to go up and down every street—First Avenue, Second Avenue, Third Avenue, Fourth Avenue—then, I come around the corner—Fifth Avenue. There are five men lying on the sidewalk, sound asleep. I said: “Caleb! There they are!” We go over to them; we give them the water; we talk to them; we pray with them. We get back in the car. Caleb said, “Dad, I told you!” and he goes right back to sleep.
The beauty of that, for me, was—when you talk about legacy and you talk about yielding to the voice of God—God couldn’t have given me a greater gift than to see that in my son already, and him yielding to it, and responding to it.
Bob: Right. And you couldn't have given him a greater gift than to value what he came and said—
Bob: —and to climb out of your comfort zone, because this was not how you wanted to spend the evening; right?
Louis: Absolutely not, because my mouth was hurting and my head was pounding. [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, and I thought, too, about how wise you were in terms of letting him go get the food.
Dennis: Now, the temptation of a parent would be to just say, “Oh, okay; we'll just go do it.” But instead, you let him prepare the food/put it together. It was his mission, not yours—you were assisting.
Louis: And it has become his mission. He is now developing things out with the Second Harvest Food Bank. He is now leading kids—instead of kids having birthday parties at, you know, little family places—they’re now taking classes of fourth graders and fifth graders, and choosing to have their birthday parties at Second Harvest Food Bank to pack food for kids, who are hungry and homeless.
Michelle: That's Louis Upkins. Isn't that a powerful story of the importance of living a life on purpose? It's obvious that Louis, doesn't just live out his walk with God in the business world, but that he lives it in front of his children. For the entire interview with Dennis Rainey, Bob Lepine, and Louis Upkins, go to FamilyLifeThisWeek.com—that's FamilyLifeThisWeek.com.
In Deuteronomy 6—and this is after Moses gave the Ten Commandments—he looks out over all the people of Israel and says: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your strength. These commandments I give to you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children, talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road; when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands, and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” If you're thinking that some of those words in there were in the New Testament, you'd be right; because Jesus also said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
What would our world look like if we really did this?—if we passed down a legacy like this—if we passed down God's Words like this in our homes, and loving the Lord with all our heart, our soul, and our mind. I'm thinking we need to do a better job of how we're doing it.
Hey, we need to take a break, but on the flip side, I have an incredible story for you of a man who loved God so much that he may have changed the entire course of history in his own family—and that's legacy! So stay tuned. I'll be right back.
[Radio Station Spot Break]
Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. Today, we're talking about legacy—what we’re actively doing now for the next generation. And there's this story that I heard, a while back; and I just—I have to share it with you!
It's a story told by Crawford Loritts. Crawford is Senior Pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Crawford and his wife Karen speak at FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember®. He's written numerous books, and he's been on FamilyLife Today numerous times. Crawford also hosts two nationally-syndicated radio programs.
Listen to these titles: Living a Legacy and Legacy Moment. What's the common word there?
Here's Crawford, sharing about his great-grandfather, Peter—a man who had an eternal perspective.
Crawford: My great grandfather—his name was Peter—was a slave on a Louisiana plantation. You know, during the Civil War, apparently, Peter migrated with the family that owned him to Catawba County, North Carolina—that's where our roots are. Peter was an illiterate man: he couldn’t read, and he couldn't write.
Peter had two things, though, that has marked each succeeding generation. He loved Jesus with all of his heart. The story is told that he had memorized—I know he was illiterate—but he had memorized entire portions of Scripture. You know what he used to do? He used to make his children and grandchildren read to him—over, and over, and over, and over again—his favorite passages. Secondly, Peter had a deep, passionate commitment to his family. He had three children: my grandfather, Milton; my great uncle, Uncle HP, Milton's brother; and their sister, Aunt Georgia. My Grandfather Milton had seven boys and seven girls—fourteen kids.
You say: “Well, look! You mean Peter's your great grandfather?” Yes; because, see, my dad is the youngest boy; and he’s 80. It was his grandfather that was a slave. They were brought up in the heyday of the Klan in the rural South. My dad worked for over 30 years for A&P Warehouse.
My father never went to any family conference; he never read a book on the family. I don't even think, other than me telling him, he even knows who James Dobson is. [Laughter] But every Saturday was family day. I played Little League baseball there at the Boy's Club on Littleton Avenue; and my father used to finagle his schedule around, because he had to work nights. He used to work the shift—4 to 12—but whenever I had games, he would finagle his schedule around so he could be with me. He would stand at the same place all the time, right along first baseline/that chain-link fence, and he would just cheer me on.
I never had any need that my father didn't break his back to supply. I remember an argument that he and my mother had. I was a little guy—I was about eight years old. They needed the money for something, and it was Christmas time. If my dad had worked the holidays, he could've made triple time—but I'll never forget these words—
he said: “Sylvia, I'm not gonna do that.” My dad's not a lazy man: “That would be blood money,”—I'll never forget that line—“These kids need me around here a little bit more.”
Last April, I was on my way to Africa; in fact, it was late that Sunday night. I get this phone call, near midnight, from my mother. They live in Roanoke, Virginia; we live in Atlanta—that's about an eight-hour drive away. My mother was on the phone, and she was crying. She said, “You gotta come up and see about your daddy.” I said, “What's wrong?” “Well, honey, I'm at the hospital; and they don't expect him to live.”
Needless to say, I caught the first flight the next morning up there to Virginia. I get there—my sisters and myself. I'll never forget this scene—we're standing around the bed: I was up near his head; my mother was over here; my two sisters were down here. I'll never forget him looking at me; and he said, “Well, boy,”—tears coming down his cheeks—“I did the very best I could.” And I knew exactly what he meant by that. I leaned over and kissed him; I said, “Pop, you did a great job!” [Sniffling[ Please forgive me, but it's a strange thing when you see the passing of an era. You realize that your dad's not going to be around much longer to sit on the front porch and tell you those old stories. Now, it's my turn to tell my kids and my grandkids those old stories.
[Emotion in voice] You see, nobody will ever know who my father was; nobody will ever know who my Grandfather Milton was. We can't even find Peter's grave, although he's buried behind the church there across the street from the old homestead. But every time I stand before a group like this, and every time they mention my name or they say, “Dr. Loritts,” or every time I sit in a board meeting, or every time somebody reads an article that I write, I stand on the shoulders of great men. I stand on the shoulders of people who quietly did the job.
I want to tell you something—if a former slave could do it, who couldn't read or couldn't write; and if my dad could do it—why can't we do it? Why can't we do it?! We can turn the tide in this country, but it's going to take some rolling up the sleeves. It’s going to take some self-denial. It's going to take some reordering of priorities. It's going to take some tough decisions; but we can do it; by God's grace, we can do it.
Michelle: That's Crawford Loritts, talking about a legacy of, well, giants—standing on the shoulders of giants.
Here's my question for you: “How many giants’ shoulders are you standing on? Do you know?” Maybe we should look at it the opposite way: “Are your shoulders the giant shoulders that the next generation will be standing on?”—just something to think about.
Here's the cool thing for the Loritts family: “This legacy, that began with an illiterate man, who memorized Scripture, it's been going strong for over 150 years. It's continuing into the future. Crawford's son, Bryan, is a preacher, just like his dad. Bryan is the lead Pastor at Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in California. “Can the man preach?!”—I heard him last summer, and I haven't been able to shake what he shared; and that's probably a good thing. I wanted you to hear a story that he shared about prayer.
Bryan: The story’s told of an old Southern town that was experiencing, in Georgia, a horrific drought. It was an agricultural community. As the days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, this drought was wreaking havoc on this Southern community. A lot of people were having their businesses and homes foreclosed; and they were having to move out of town.
One Sunday, after church—at the end of church—the pastor just got ticked off. He said: “Look, man, you all know we've been in this drought. This drought has just been wreaking havoc on our community. This evening, I just feel compelled, by God, to call a prayer meeting. At seven o'clock, I want you to join me; join me here. We're not going to talk about prayer; we’re not going to preach on prayer; we're going to pray, and we're going to ask the God of heaven to send rain.”
Now, about 6:45 that evening, Deacon Jones and Deacon Smith are standing outside. It's a typical Southern evening—about 95 degrees; 95 percent humidity, not a cloud in the sky—just feeling like you’ve got to take a shower all the time. They're out there—Deacon Jones and Deacon Smith—just kicking it; just shooting the breeze, when, when one of them, Deacon Jones, notices out of the corner of his eye, the oldest member of the church shuffling down the dry, dusty road—it’s Mother Mary.
He notices Mother Mary because Mother Mary is dressed peculiarly. She's got on a rain jacket; she's got on galoshes; she's got on a rain hat. She's got an umbrella as wide open as an umbrella can be. When she gets to the base of those steps, Deacon Jones, being the fine Southern gentleman that he is—he helps her up. He couldn't keep his peace; he says, “Mother Mary, it's 95 degrees; 95 percent humidity, and not a cloud in the sky; but here you are with this rain jacket, galoshes, rain hat, and umbrella as wide open as an umbrella can be! Why are you dressed like this?”
Mother Mary looked at him as if he was crazy. She said: “My pastor said we were going talk to God and ask God to send rain. I figured if we was going to pray for rain, I’d best come dressed for the rain!” [Laughter and applause] They move inside the church house, and the hundred or so who were there that evening—they prayed like never before, expectantly, that God would send the rain. And wouldn’t you know it? About halfway through the prayer meeting, they heard the pitter-patter splish-splash until it sounded like literal cats and dogs hitting the pavement.
They were slapping, high five, and rejoicing! God had heard their requests; and then, all of a sudden, silence. See, it was a small southern town; and everybody had walked to church; but the only one prepared to walk back home in the rain—[Laughter]—was Mother Mary. “Why would you ask God to do something—to send the rain—and you not come dressed for the rain?”
Michelle: That's Bryan Loritts, telling a powerful story of Mother Mary, a lady who left behind an incredible legacy of prayer.
You know, I was at a funeral, a couple of years ago; and it was for my Uncle Richard. Uncle Richard was a simple man—he faithfully worked behind the scenes in so many ways. He faithfully sent birthday cards and Christmas cards, and in each card was a small note. The notes usually read like: “I pray for you every night. Love, Uncle Richard.” He never missed a birthday or Christmas, and I know he meant what he said—he prayed for me every night. What an incredible legacy he left for me!
If you have an Uncle Richard in your life, and they're still alive, thank them; because I don't think I understood the magnitude of legacy that Uncle Richard left for me—just something to think about this weekend.
Hey, can you imagine God spurring you on to adopt?—not just one child—but maybe more than you think you could handle? We're going to hear the story of sweet little Alyssa and how her adoption opened the doors and opened the hearts for her parents to adopt six more. Tricia Goyer is going to join me and share their adoption story. That's next week on FamilyLife This Week.
Hey, thanks for listening! I appreciate you taking time out of your day to spend it with me. Also, thanks to FamilyLife’s President, David Robbins, along with our station partners around the country. A big “Thank you!” to our engineer today, Keith Lynch. Thanks to our producers, Marques Holt and Bruce Goff. Justin Adams is in the other room watching, although he will be mastering after a while; and Megan Martin is our production coordinator.
Our program is a production of FamilyLife Today, and our mission is to effectively develop godly families who change the world one home at a time.
I'm Michelle Hill, inviting you to join us again next time for another edition of FamilyLife This Week.
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