Hope for Living: Those who pass it on well are intentional


“It is not the honor that you take with you, but the heritage you leave behind,” said Branch Rickey.

A heritage dies gradually. Our heritage has an impact on us, from the dailiness of our lives to our sense of self, and even influences our faith journey.

Some define their heritage primarily as cultural, or ethnic, and attach it to a national identity. Other people can point to values that have been passed down, such as a love for community, participation in civic life, a strong altruistic sense of mission, or religious devotion.

Heritage is to faith as what coffee beans are to coffee; just because you have one doesn’t mean you’ll have the other, and it takes more than a “just add water” approach.

The book of Jeremiah, chapter 35, speaks of a group of people called Rechabites. They lived outside of the cities in tents and never settled in one place, but they were intentional with their heritage. The Rechabites obeyed their leader’s commands passed down to them for almost 300 years; the people of Judah continually disobeyed their God. The Rechabites would be rewarded; the people of Judah would be judged.

The Rechabites were meaningful specifics when it came to their heritage, they even faced their perceived challenges by restating what had been passed down to them (Jeremiah 35:6).

What is the meaning of heritage for people of faith? Heritage refers to practices, belief systems or characteristics that are passed down through the years, from one generation to the other.

When it comes to our faith heritage, there seem to be two glaring categories that have a strong presence today; we are either a meaningful specific or a wandering generality!

By way of example, I have never met anyone who accidentally won a marathon or hit the center concentric circle of a target they did not have.

If we are not specific with our intentional approach to passing faith to the next generation, we will succumb to the malaise of mediocrity or benign nothingness extraordinaire.

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” — Billy Graham

While it may seem like an arbitrary negative, failing to make a proactive decision to pass one’s faith forward gives way for it to die a certain death — by default.

As if you would write an epitaph for a heritage, follow the steps (below), and you will vociferously end an opportunity of a heritage for the next generation:

-Build monuments instead of leaving footprints

-Extinguish awe and mute reverence

-Avoid the road marked “Extra Mile”

-Elevate trivialities by worshiping excesses

-Focus on honors and downplay heritage

-Remove pauses for reflection on the faith journey

-Remember to entertain them versus train them

-Let repetition and volume replace timeless truisms

-Fail to see things through

-Fail to see through things

Oh, forget about that basin full of murky water (John 13:4-5) and throw in the dirty towel!

Markus Dennis is pastor of Riley Friends Church. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.