Today's guest writer is Mark Beale who is priest in charge at St Alban the Martyr, Balmoral, Auckland. Prior to this he was minister of St Elizabeth's Anglican Church, Clendon, a South Auckland church which he planted 28 years earlier. Mark was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2001 for his services to the community. He also served on the Board of Promise Keepers NZ. He shares this inspiring message with us.
If we are to leave a legacy of value, our lives need to have a positive impact on the world around us. This impact must begin in our homes and spread out into the wider community.
In 1845 a boy called Andre Bessette was born in Canada. Andre’s parents died when he was young. He joined the congregation of the Holy Cross Church, Montreal. He was given the task of greeting people at the door, as those in charge felt he was lacking in education and physical strength. He died in 1937 at the age of 92. It is reported that over a million people came to bid him farewell at his funeral. Why? They honoured him because his ministry had touched them, their relatives, and their friends.
As men it is instinctive to us to provide for our families or to provide for those who we feel a responsibility towards. It is important that we understand this provision to be more than just material needs. To only provide in a material sense is to fall well short of what the Bible would understand as the role of a man. At the very beginning of the book of Proverbs we are told, “The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge.” And that, “Fools spurn wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:7)
For me, the answer to this has been cemented in my involvement with Promise Keepers. I was first attracted to Promise Keepers by its very name. I had been brought up by a father who had ingrained in me that to be an effective man meant I would have to be a man who kept his word. The keeping of a promise was central to my understanding of life. As a Christian man I have made a promise to follow Christ.
The legacy that I need to leave is one that will last - a legacy that can be carried down from one generation to the next. As a father of five children, I have thought carefully about what sort of legacy I would like my children to inherit. As an Anglican minister my life has not been one of accumulating material wealth. I live a life that has at its heart a desire to serve God and accumulate wisdom.
The essential gifts that I want my children to inherit are centred on walking in the ways of Christ. My father instilled in me certain values: As well as the importance of keeping one’s word, he emphasised the importance of contributing to the greater good of the world that one finds oneself in. For me it is important that my children live with an ambition to make the world they live in a better place than the world they inherited, to create an upward spiral of human moral and social progress and not to contribute to a downward spiral of social decay. If they are to do this, they need a strong moral base to work from. This base begins with a right relationship with God, a right understanding of the nature of God and the purpose of God in our lives.
To achieve this legacy as men we need to understand an essential principle. Abraham Lincoln said, “There is just one way to bring up a child in the way he should go and that is to travel that way yourself.” If we want our children to live in a right path with God, we ourselves need to be living in this right path.
The legacy we leave is determined by our faithfulness to the calling God has put on our lives. If we are a father, we are called to be a good father. As Christian men we are called to make a difference in the world we live in for the glory of God. Our legacy is what we leave behind.