What greater privilege is there for a parent than to pass on both spiritual truth and practical tools to live with on this earth?
There are many ways you and I can leave a spiritual legacy for our children.
- Living a Godly life as an example for your daughters and sons to emulate would be a glorifying choice.
- Establishing meaningful traditions and a beautiful family culture is another way.
- While maintaining a stable marriage which instills a sense of security into your children is yet another.
One way that you could also impart a tangible legacy is to pass on practical tips which you have come to learn over your years both by wisdom and experience.
I have been keeping a running list that has culminated into the following 23 pieces of advice to leave as a legacy for our children, and that I believe would greatly benefit our daughters especially should they follow these.
I hope you will find them helpful both for yourself and perhaps as some guidelines for jotting down your own for your children after you…
I have divided these up into the three S’s; Spiritual, Social, and Sensible
- Have a regular time during each day to read and study the Bible, and pray. I recently fell so behind in this, and realized that I was attempting to stick with the accepted time of mornings to execute my Bible reading and prayer. By the grace of God I had an ‘Aha!’ moment that I could do this in the evening before I go to sleep. It has been absolutely wonderful to have this quiet time as I close my day, thanking God and dedicating the next 24 hours to Him. I wake up sensing the peace of God in a way I hadn’t before. All that to say, find a time that suits you daily, whenever it may be!
- Glean at least one gem to take with you into life from every book you read and sermon you hear.
- Each day begins the night before. This is a biblical principle laid out since Genesis! God gives us hints about this idea even into the New Testament where He commands us to “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger…” (Ephesians 4:26). He clearly shows us that if we are angry the evening before, that anger will continue into the following day. We need to remember, along these lines, that whatever we carry with us from the evening before, is the way we will begin the following day. Therefore, be sure to end your days on a good, clear note.
- Whenever you tell someone that you will pray for them, do it as soon as you can, so that you can honour that commitment. It is surprising how quickly one can forget these promises, and it is not honouring to the Lord to neglect these pledges.
- Be ministry minded! When you buy a house, choose one where you can host guests and weary travellers. When you buy a car, pick one with an extra seat or two so that you can give people rides when necessary. When you budget, leave some money aside to bless others or to give to those in need. In every situation you come across in life, make choices that would include serving and considering others, for the Lord’s sake.
- When hearing a Scripture reference and wanting to write it down (book, chapter and verse number), write the numbers down first, and then the book name. You are far more likely to forget the numbers by the time you write down the name of the book, so once you have the digits down, jot down the Bible book in front of it, and you’re good to go :-).
- Whenever you visit someone, always bring something with you such as baking, a small gift, etc. Never come empty handed.
- Create a time buffer when going somewhere. So, if you need to be at a meeting at 10am, and it takes you 15 minutes to reach the location, leave 25 minutes prior in order to reach there in good time. As a wise friend once told me, “If you’re on time, you’re late.” 🙂
- Do the important before it gets urgent. If you need to purchase and wrap a gift for a birthday party on January 18th, purchase the gift by January 15th, and wrap it by the 16th, so that it’s ready in plenty of time. Or if you have a project to hand in on the 12th, have it completed by the 5th. This habit in itself will save your child large quantities of stress in life, and will turn potentially nail biting situations into seasons of confidence and peace.
- When planning an outing or meeting by email or phone, give and take as many details as possible at a time, to avoid any unnecessary correspondence and time being spent. It’s amazing how much time of going back and forth can be saved by anticipating questions that can come up and answering those in advance.
- Make a big deal of people’s birthdays and anniversaries. This is such a great opportunity to show folks and friends how important and special they are to you. Sending them a text to show that you are thinking of them on the day, sending an ecard/card for the occasion, or phoning them, goes a long way in making people feel valuable and treasured!
- If someone shares with you that they are going to undergo surgery, move to a new home, or go on a trip, make a note in your calendar a day or two before the event to contact them to encourage, email, phone and/or pray for them. This will make those with whom you are in touch feel special and will contribute to building meaningful and lasting relationships. The same applies to after an event. Make a note to contact the person a couple of days after they’ve moved house, had a tooth out, etc, to ask how it went and show them you care.
- Ask questions! When you are with people, especially meeting them for the first time and wanting to get to know them, or during uncomfortable situations, always ask them questions about themselves. Take an interest, and genuinely listen. People love to talk about themselves, and asking questions will avoid many an awkward silence, and will more often than not be reciprocated with questions in your direction, leading to flowing and enjoyable conversations.
- Keep either an online or paper calendar, and use it often. If a bill needs to be paid on a certain date, for example on the 30th of the month, write down in your calendar on the 28th to pay it, including the sum that needs to be paid, the account number, and your customer number. This will save late fees as well as build good rapport with the person or company you are paying. This works for projects that need to be done, too.
- Always be reading a good book. Get recommendations from friends for quality reads, or get a hold of books that you see online that come highly recommended. If a book turns out to be spiritually heretical or discouraging, don’t be afraid to stop reading it!
- Go to sleep each night by 11pm. Studies have shown that every minute before midnight is worth four minutes after midnight. So simply by going to sleep an hour prior to 12am, you’ll already have gained four hours of sleep!
- Meal plan a few days in advance. Another huge stress-reliever. When meal planning, make a shopping list, and be sure to have all the necessary ingredients in the house to have on hand when you need them.
- Keep a “Giveaway Cupboard” somewhere in the house. This serves as a temporary storage space to place items that need to be returned to or given to people. Check the “Giveaway Cupboard” regularly before leaving home, in case you can take an item with you to someone you will be seeing that day.
- When you are given something yummy to eat, be sure to ask the cook for the recipe. Store all the recipes in a folder or book to pass on to your daughter when she leaves home. (Have her practice making the delicious food while she is still around, for educational purposes of course 😉 ).
- Be a chucker, rather than a hoarder. I used to be an obsessive hoarder until I was 22 years old and went away for six months with nothing but what I could fit into a backpack. When I returned, I realized that I hadn’t missed a single thing that I had sitting at home. I got rid of 90% of my belongings, and have been a blissful chucker since! Umpteen studies show that hoarding “stuff” leads to conditions such as depression and feeling overwhelmed, so being a chucker is definitely the healthier option :-).
- Be frugal. Purchase gifts from thrift stores, garage sales, and clearance sales. Keep a “Gift Cupboard” and when you want to give someone a gift, shop your Gift Cupboard for that perfect something. This saves huge amounts of money in the long run. If you want to keep it more personal, start looking around for gifts in this way for specific people whom you know have birthdays coming up, a couple of months in advance…
- Whenever possible, make wise choices in what you eat. If there is a table laid out with a pasta dish, a hearty vegetable salad, a meat dish, and a pizza, for example, choose the salad and meat dish over the pasta and pizza, being aware that this would be the healthy choice for your body.
- Keep a running shopping list in a handy place. Whenever you notice an item in your pantry, fridge, or bathroom running low, take a moment to jot it down on your shopping list. That way, you’ll never run out of anything, and always be stocked up.
I hope to add many more to this list, especially in the spiritual arena, but I hope these have served as a tool to help you get started on your own list. Basically, if you think of some things that you wish someone would have told you at the beginning of your journey, you’ll be heading in the right direction :-).
What are some pieces of life advice that you would share with your own children based on the wisdom and experience that you have benefited from yourself?
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