BY: JEFFREY SYPOLE
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” ~ Proverbs 22:1
Both riches (silver and gold) and an honorable reputation (loving favor and respect) are good. But if one must choose between them, Solomon, who wrote this proverb, says, “Choose a good name.” A good name is what we will be remembered by, not how much wealth we had.
No matter how hard we work, no matter how much wealth and notoriety we accumulate, no matter how many frequent flyer miles we log, it is always a fair question to ask, “What will I leave behind?”
What we leave behind is called legacy. It’s more than bank accounts, IRAs, and real estate. It is more than “Employee of the Year” plaques. It is more than newspaper clippings, and certainly, more than a wooden box planted six feet deep in the earth when it is all over. More than a fleeting memory, a legacy is an indelible impression for future generations. It is the mark we make in life that lives far longer than forty, fifty, or eighty years. It’s the footprints we leave at the workplace, in the neighborhood, and in the church. It’s the fingerprints we leave in the lives of those we love. It’s the way we do things and the reason we do them. Legacy is as close as we can get to immortality this side of eternity.
Deep in the soul of every person is the desire to leave behind a good name—a name that rings true, a name that makes people nod in affirmation and respect. Few people lust for a name that makes others stand up and clap. For most of us, a pat on the back from a family member is fine. If we hear a word of encouragement, it may be enough to get our heart out of rhythm. For a person to be able to look into the eyes of his/her family and be able to see them looking back with honor, admiration, trust, and loyalty—that would be a dream come true. That is a living legacy, and that is what every person longs for and holds dear to.
A living legacy doesn’t grow in a vacuum. Neither does it grow in a petri dish. A living legacy is the product of the consistent hard choices we have been talking about—integrity, sensitivity, humility, fidelity, responsibility, and charity. It comes from God and from always having a heart for our fellow man. There are no shortcuts. No such thing as microwave maturity. A good name doesn’t grow on trees and it is not for sale at any price. It is not just given to an elite few, nor is it withheld from others. It is held out to each of us—ours for the taking—as long as we are willing to make allowances, sacrifices, and always extend ourselves in love.
This proverb points out that a reputation has more value than possessions or wealth. A good name cannot be replaced easily, not even with lots of money. So the question is: What are we living for? Is it to have as much as we can accumulate to live a comfortable earthly existence? Will any of it matter after we are gone? Or, is it a commitment to love and serve others with a benevolent heart and be remembered for all eternity for our contribution to the benefit of their lives?