We are often counseled against looking back or worrying too much about the future because it doesn’t do us any good. We are taught to focus on the present. Studies show significant benefits to “staying in the present” or “being present”—reduced anxiety, self-control, improved concentration, emotional intelligence, and so on. The Bible says today has enough trouble of its own, so we should not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34). The Bible also tells us to honor landmarks and legacy (Proverbs 22:28). And Proverbs 6:6–8 instructs us to prepare for the future. The ant reminds us not to be lazy or lackluster today because it impacts tomorrow.
However, when it comes to “leaving a legacy,” there are lessons to learn from the past and the present. And there is much we should consider about the future.
1. Our past serves as a launching pad.
Analyzing our history helps us understand what has worked and what hasn’t. We learn valuable lessons on how to walk in truth, love people, and overcome adversity. We discover what to value, what needs healing, and songs of victory.When it comes to leaving a legacy, there are lessons to learn from the past and the present. And there is much we should consider about the future. Click To Tweet
As a first-generation Apostolic, African American woman, I have much to learn from my history. My family hasn’t walked in truth, and I see the destruction it has caused. I, for one, always knew I didn’t want to leave behind the same legacy. I hear, read, and celebrate stories of pioneers who paved the way for this great truth and civil rights, two beautiful freedoms I intend to defend for my future children to enjoy. When placed in proper perspective, our past serves as a place from which we can learn and launch. It tells us what pitfalls to avoid, what altars and landmarks to honor, and where we should go from here. What has your past taught you?
2. Our present serves as a starting block.
By assessing the present honestly, we can determine whether our history is being viewed correctly and where our faith lies in the future. It’s like a thermostat, telling us the temperature of our lives and how to adjust it. Taking stock of the present and being in the moment sharpens our skills. It lets us know what we need to do now to heal, grow, and live life more abundantly. The Scripture tells us, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Jesus came so our now can be everything thing He intended for it to be. Don’t live in yesteryear or tomorrow. Make strides to live abundantly today. The present sets the pace, so our future can be more than we imagined. What are you doing to live, truly live, in the present?
3. Our future serves as a target.
Understanding what we want the future to look like helps us sort through our past, handle our present, and prepare for the future. Having a target, or goal, in mind tells us what we should aim for and how we should conduct and prepare ourselves to reach it.
In a recent seminar for work, the speaker made a powerful statement. She said many of us are “forgetting the future for the present.” She explained how our need for instant gratification has us sacrificing tomorrow for today. We must be mindful that we aren’t sacrificing our future through the choices we make today.
What does your preparation tell you about what you believe to be true about the future? To leave a beautiful legacy, we must learn from the past, assess our present, and plan for the future. Each of these areas is paramount to discovering the kind of legacy we want to leave. What kind of legacy would you like to leave?
(A version of this article was published in Reflections.)
Dincecia Gates holds two degrees in communication and loves traveling, flowers, cupcakes, the beach, and coffee. She is a bi-vocational credentialed minister with the UPCI and serves in several capacities at her local church, New Life St. Louis, Missouri.