What do you think about George W. Bush?
If I were to go out on the street and ask 10 people this question, I would get 10 different responses. And that’s okay. We all have an opinion of our presidents, and we are entitled to those opinions.
In order to form a more accurate picture of our pasts presidents for myself, I am trying to read many of their biographies. Currently, I’m reading through George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points. I love hearing the behind-the-scenes thinking of the President of the United States. We get to hear his thought process that lead to the countless news stories I grew up seeing on TV and in the newspaper. Each of those storylines lead us to have a lasting picture of Bush’s presidency.
In the book, he shares 14 decisions that shaped his life and presidency. During his 8 years in office, just a few decisions would shape the legacy he would leave behind as the 43rd POTUS. Out of the 2,848 days Bush spent living in the White House, one could argue only a handful determined how the public would remember him.
Bush understood that there would be differing opinions about his presidency. In regards to his legacy, he would say this about the culmination of his decisions and time in office:
Decades from now, I hope people will view me as a president who recognized the central challenge of our time and kept my vow to keep the country safe; who used America’s influence to advance freedom. And I hope they will conclude that I upheld the honor and dignity of the office I was so privileged to hold. Whatever the verdict of my presidency, I’m comfortable with the fact I won’t be around to hear it. That’s a decision point only history will reach.
While reading this sweeping overview of another man’s life, my mind quickly jumps to asking questions of my own.
What will my legacy be?
What are the decisions that will define my life?
When my name comes up in conversation, what do others say about me?
But the real question that is at the root of all these is: what is a successful legacy? What am I striving to accomplish with my life?
As a follower of Jesus, this is a question that will reorient the way we live our lives. Today, many would say that the success of one’s legacy is measured by the amount of money one has earned, the career accomplishments one has achieved, or even the inheritance one passes down to their children. None of these are bad things. Actually, these are great things that we should all strive for, but there’s more to a legacy than accolades and net worth.
As Christians, when it comes to our legacy, let us not measure the success of our life based upon the money we earn or the ladders we climb, but simply, by answering this question:
Did we live a Christ-like life that impacted others to see Christ as glorious?
Jackie Robinson, a man who knew something about leaving a legacy, said this, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
So our legacy is not about the material capital we leave behind. Instead, it is the relational capital we decide to invest while we are here. The only lasting object that we can choose to invest in is people. Everything else passes away, but souls are eternal.
Because of this, we can say that the legacy of a man is the impact that he has had on others.
For me, I pray that my legacy would be that I impacted others in a way that I would be able to repeat the words of Paul when he said:
“And they glorified God because of me.” – Galatians 1:24
If I were to write a simple legacy statement for myself, that would be it.
What will your legacy be?