Have you noticed that the single most important driving force in some people’s life is to leave a legacy of “amazing” accomplishments for future generations to acknowledge or debate? The need for recognition of a life well lived is not detrimental, it is, given the human need for acceptance and love, highly understandable. However, if the preoccupation with shaping the future opinion of people whom you have never met overwhelms the responsibility of caring for those whom you should love today, then a review of your priorities is in order.
The one word that defines the need behind the emotional process that can lead to caring too much about your own future is: greatness. Greatness can be defined as “A concept of a state of superiority affecting a person, object, or place.” Greatness can also be referred to individuals “Who possess a natural ability to be better than all others.” Some places are great; (the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Sydney Harbor), certain people are assigned greatness without asking for it (Winston Churchill, Abe Lincoln), and then there those who want to be known as great (you fill in the blank).
There are those individuals who have a talent that far exceeds most other people. I think Eric Clapton is one of the greatest guitar players of all time. He has a skill that is beyond what most of us can dream. Likewise, I think Steven King and Ernest Hemingway are great writers. These artists did not seek out my approval or opinion, but their natural ability combined with uncommon effort led me to know and admire their work. The skills and the opportunities that accompany people like Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway are shared by a very few, certainly less that 1% of the population. So what about the rest of us? Are we to give up on greatness? What about our legacy?
These are difficult questions with complex answers because they involve the tender emotions of people. Maybe we shouldn’t care too much about what people will think of us when we are gone, but we shouldn’t disregard the idea either. Caring about tomorrow can make us try harder to make better decisions today, and that will benefit everyone. I think the approach to greatness differs with each person, so I can only share mine.
I would love to be remembered as a great writer who touched the lives of many in a beautiful way. I would love to play guitar like Eric Clapton. Yet, I am a good writer, but I do not know if my ability will grow beyond good, and although I can strum a C and E chord, I’ll never even be a good guitarist. But I am content with not possessing a skill that would launch my actions today into tomorrow’s memories for you. But I do earnestly need to achieve a level of greatness in something. Which something is the question; here are my answers:
I must be a great husband,
I must be a great father,
I want to be a great friend.
Greatness is less about what one does to be called great, and more about who believes that you are. There is no option other than to be a great father and husband for my family. Their belief in me trumps all other aspirations.
Loving, and being loved by an unlimited God will not make me a great husband or father, but it does provide the right role model, and allow me to forgive myself when I land short of greatness. My legacy will be carried by our children and friends, which inspires me to be the best father and husband, to create greatness with every day, and share it with those whom I care the most about.
Have a great day!