We hear a lot these days about legacy. People say they want to leave a legacy in their jobs, families, churches, and other places. And what they usually mean is that they want to leave some kind of positive reputation behind. They want others to know they were good workers, good thinkers, or people who left something positive behind for the world.
But few people think about simple kindness when they think about legacy. They want to leave something behind, but something as simple as kindness is not often seen as worthy of legacy.
My grandfather on my mother's side was a simple man. He didn't have a lot of formal education, he didn't make a lot of money, he was not a politically active person, he was not the CEO of a major corporation, and he had all of the faults and failures we humans have. In terms of legacy, he should have left very little behind for any of us. However, his kindness shone. My grandfather could always be counted on for a good laugh, a gentle word, and personal attention. We all completely trusted him because he was worthy of our trust. He was humble, wise, and, most of all, kind. Sure, I saw him upset a few times, but it was always in the context of a life filled with kind words and spirit.
I often times wonder how I'm doing in this regard. I'm too frequently concerned about legacies that don't matter. I think about leaving physical property to my children or leaving a positive impression on people in my professional life or something equally asinine. But what about kindness? Am I leaving that legacy for my children, my co-workers, and my friends and family? Well, I guess you'd have to ask them, but sometimes I don't know that I would want to hear their answers. How about you?