How do we glean wisdom from those we admire and pass on the wisdom we ourselves learn? Are we intentional about ensuring wisdom gets passed from generation to generation, both in our homes and our churches?
It might seem a little conceited to think so, but actually the truth is each one of us learns nuggets of wisdom from our life's experiences. God teaches us so much through them – but how do we pass them on? Yes, they are there to grow and shape us, but we are part of a body and sharing what we have learned generously is a wonderful way of loving others.
One of the hallmarks of the ministry I feel God has led me to is authenticity. I find he nudges me to write and speak about the very things he has been teaching me (often through suffering or perplexing circumstances as well as moments of huge joy). To be open and honest about those truths that have been hard won, those eureka moments that have helped make sense of life and purpose, can be so helpful to those around us too – and is a way of cementing the lesson in our own hearts.
I was always very close to my mum, who passed away the February before the pandemic swept our nation. And yet I know there were some things that she never shared. I know, for instance, that she had a book inside her that she wanted to write, but she never had the opportunity to do so.
So when it came time to sort through all her things I was intrigued to find journals. I longed to delve into them, to find out more about her life and inner struggles and lessons learned that perhaps I hadn't known about. And yet, as a journal writer myself, I knew as soon as my sister said we had to throw them away without looking at them, that she was right. Those were my mum's personal writings, and there would have been things within them that she had chosen not to share.
But I was left wondering what I had missed out on, which is why I found Carrie Lloyd's new prompted journal The Legacy Letters so intriguing. The person who buys it gives it to another to fill in the pages with their own wisdom. The idea came from when Carrie wrote down the questions she wanted to ask her mother in a blank, leather-bound journal five years ago. Once the pages were filled, she discovered stories she never knew of her family, adversities she had not known about previously and historical references that could have been missed without her intentional questions. She has reworked those questions as the basis for The Legacy Letters.
When I picked up a copy with my own hands, I felt a pang – that I had not had the same idea as Carrie to ask my mum particular questions before my mum had died (but to be fair to myself, we had lived through so many difficult years that it simply wasn't on my radar). In fact, in her introduction, Carrie reveals that the questions she asked her mum were those she wished she had asked her dad before he passed away. But it also made me think about what sort of legacy I would like to leave – and what stories and lessons I can share with my children – both biological and spiritual.
It is helpful for us all to think about whether we intentionally invest in those around us, listening carefully to those who can impart wisdom to us (and asking intentional questions to glean as much as we can) and generously offering up our own stories and lessons learned. But it is important to reflect on the way that we pass on our own legacy, and what our motivations are for doing so. Carrie offers up some thoughts on this:
"When I lead or mentor others, they have to experience my apologies, as much as my love, they have to feel my encouragement and belief through my actions towards them. Never before have actions become so vital in leaving legacy, for in the ocean of opinions, the real wisdom that survives, that transforms, is the wisdom that has legs, the wisdom that is backed with works carried out by us – the ones who wish to see a helpful impact long after we are gone.
"I can't lead or teach people until I know their dreams, their hopes, their longings. From there I can guide, find ways for them to get tasters and glimpses of that very thing they want more of. I keep them accountable to their own wants, not my wants for them. If it's healing, we find the antithesis of what hurt them. If it's being given a chance, it's placing them in roles that stretch them. I can't lead anyone if I don't know what makes them come alive. And from there, the aim is not for them to carry my legacy, but that they will build their own."
The Legacy Letters is available now from Malcolm Down Publishing.
Claire Musters is a writer, speaker and editor who blogs at clairemusters.com. Her most recent books are Every Day Insights: Disappointment and Loss and Grace-Filled Marriage. The latter was written with her husband, and they have provided a series of free videos to accompany the book, which can be accessed on the Big Church Read website. Claire also writes and edits for Premier Woman Alive and Christianity magazines as well as hosting the Woman Alive Book Club.
Republished from Christian Today UK.