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Category: Inspiration / Topics: Christian Life Discipleship Generosity

Leaving a Legacy

Learning to "pay it forward"

by Will Randolph

Posted: June 13, 2015

As we grow older, many of us begin to think about what our mark in life will be …

As we grow older, many of us begin to think about what our mark in life will be.  What will we leave behind to say we made a difference and what will be remembered for after we are gone?  This is especially true for boomers.  Many of us boomers grew up hopeful we could change the world, and though we may have tempered this desire with reality, we still expect to make the world a better place.  None of us can do it alone.  Indeed, we can do much more working collectively. 

Providing opportunities for making a difference and leaving a mark in the world is precisely what the church can offer all ages and especially older adults.  It can form the heart of a church’s older adult ministry, both to and with older adults.

There is a popular term for leaving a legacy:  “Pay it Forward.” This term entered culture from the title of a movie by the same name.  In this movie, released in 2000, a teacher asks his students to come up with a project to make a difference in the world.  One student’s idea was to do random acts of kindness for strangers and ask them to pay it forward by doing acts of kindness for three other people. 

In the movie we are shown how successful his project proves to be in the extravagant outpouring of acts of kindness by strangers.  Although the student’s life is tragically cut short, he is remembered in a candlelight vigil by hundreds of people for the difference he made in bringing people together.  It became his legacy.

As Christ’s representatives in the world, we live out his legacy, and our own, too.  Others see Christ in us when we make a difference for those around us.  When we change the society for the better, we give a gift to the future and mark our own legacy.  The original term for legacy meant just this –being a representative in the world and handing something down from the past to the future. 

Giving older adults the opportunity to discover or rediscover a mission in life is key to ministry with older adults and to “paying it forward.”

 Rev. Dr. Will Randolph is Director, Office of Aging and Older Adult Ministries, United Methodist Church

Posted: June 13, 2015   Accessed 628 times

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