FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Remembering Our Legacy

with Dennis Rainey | October 6, 2010
Play Pause

What is your life about? How will friends and loved ones remember you at your memorial service? Dennis Rainey talks about the components of a legacy and asks you to consider three important questions: Where's your focus? Who is your master? Who do you love?

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • What is your life about? How will friends and loved ones remember you at your memorial service? Dennis Rainey talks about the components of a legacy and asks you to consider three important questions: Where's your focus? Who is your master? Who do you love?

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

What is your life about?

MP3 Download Transcript

Remembering Our Legacy

With Dennis Rainey
October 06, 2010
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob:  If you want your life to leave a legacy that makes a difference for eternity, then Dennis Rainey says you have to start by answering this question in your own heart.

Dennis:  Is there one Lord Jesus Christ that you’re surrendered to and submitted to and I’m going to tell you, that’s the beginning right there.

(dramatic portrayal)

Actor 1:  Jesus is on the cross and what they are saying is, “If you are Yeshua Ha'Mashiach, call some angels and tell them to get you off the cross because there seems to be an inconsistency here.  An inconsistency between the claims that you’re the Messiah and the fact that you are right now dying a criminal’s death by execution.  So do something, Jesus, if you are who you say you are.”

Actor 2:  “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”

Actor 1:  “They didn’t understand that the promise of the Messiah wasn’t just about Jesus and what he experienced in his own life.  It was about the fruit that his death, burial, and resurrection would bear for ages to come.  It was a multigenerational promise.  It was about a legacy.”

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, October 6th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey.  I'm Bob Lepine.  Is your life about bearing fruit for generations to come?  Is it about a multigenerational legacy?  It can be. 

Welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.  We’re talking this week about Living Life with the end in mind.  Having a purposefulness for our life.

Dennis:  We are.  We’re talking about your legacy. I found it interesting, Bob, I looked at the definition of legacy in Webster’s dictionary and it's interesting.  It talks about a piece of property or money or belongings that are passed down from one generation to the next.  It didn’t really talk about character, memories, some of those matters.  So I just kind of pinned what I thought a legacy is. 

Bob:  So if we looked it up in Rainey’s dictionary.

Dennis:  Well, at least I don’t know if we’d want to print this, but it's just a good working definition.  It's something handed down by one who has gone before us in the past and left to those in the present and the future. 

It's back what we have been talking about.  It's I think a life that is lived on purpose, intentional about what kind of life is going to be lived and to whose honor, whose credit that life is going to be lived and what it’s going to be about.  Is it going to be about me and what I have done?  What I have accomplished?  Or is it going to be about something much bigger than just yourself?  It's going to be about a God who’s working out a masterful plan and we get to be a part of it.

Bob:  When you get to the end of life and go beyond the end of this life, those who are left behind they’re going to remember something about you.  They’re going to have some memories.  To a large extent, that’s going to be your legacy, what folks remember about you and what your life stood for, right?

Dennis:  Yes.  We have attended funerals where we’ve sat there listening to a person’s life be summarized.  Sometimes, they’re elderly people who lived 80-90 years where there are a lot of qualities.  Sometimes, they’re young people; 10, 11, 12 years of age.  I performed a funeral onetime for a six-year-old boy, and he left the legacy.  His life left an imprint.

We’ve really been summarizing here a couple of things.  One, everyone has been given a legacy of some kind for good or for evil.  Everybody’s had something handed down to them.

Bob:  The heritage that you’ve received.

Dennis:  Right.  And then secondly, everyone also leaves a legacy just by virtue of your choices, your life.  So the question is, “you’re just going to let that happen or you’re going to try to be more intentional about it?”

Bob:  We’ve been doing this for almost 18 years now, and one of the things you have loved to do with guests is to get to the end of the program and ask them to reflect on the heritage they’ve been given to often look back and say, “What was the impact of a mom or a dad on your life or somebody notable on your life” because that’s part of the legacy that person has left.

Dennis:  Yes.  It's really fun to set across the table as we did with RV Brown.  There are times, Bob, when you just wish this was TV because there’s so much more going on than the just the voice and what it commutes.  RV Brown is a passionate man.  He is an evangelist.  He loves young people.  He loves his family.  He’s got a huge family all across the country, his brothers and sisters.  I think he was one of 17 children.

Bob:  And his biceps are bigger than my waist I believe.  Don’t you think?

Dennis:  Yeah.  I’m not going to talk about that because I need to lose a few off of my biceps as well. 

We asked him to give a tribute to his dad who was Willie “Fish” Brown.  I just want to tell you, there’ve been some times here in the studio where you just felt like the studio was in a honeycomb.  It just was sweet.  Now, I want you to listen to this man’s legacy, Willie “Fish” Brown, who couldn’t read but who made a dramatic impact.

Bob:  As you listen, what you’re listing for is the legacy that was left.  The legacy that is still shaping a son’s life today and the character of a father that still is alive through the life of his son.

RV Brown:  Daddy Fish, I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, first of all, for loving my mama.  And then, secondly, for loving me and kissing me and rubbing my little round head, telling me to go to school and everything was going to be okay. 

Dad, I want to thank you for taking me fishing, July the 6th, 1959, for the first time. Today, my son fished.  I took him to the same spot, Daddy, and we stood there until he caught a fish. 

Dad, I wanted to tell you what an awesome leader you were.  With no education, Dad, you taught me, you educated me how to love, how to appreciate you, Dad.  Not only how to appreciate you but to enjoy my life today because of what you did and how you loved me, Dad.

I wish I could hug you today, Dad.  But I know you're sitting where you can see everything that your son is doing now.  Dad, I always ask you, and I say it all the time, Dad, how am I doing, Dad? 

When I look at your picture and Mama's picture over my head in my easy chair, I always look at it and say, "Daddy, am I doing okay?  Am I loving my wife the way you loved my mom?” 

Dad, thank you for being a dad and not a father.  Thank you for taking me fishing and sitting down and talking with me on the bank when nothing was biting.  Dad, thank you for teaching me how to farm, to take care of other people and share whatever I've got with other people, Dad. 

I'm the kind of man I am today because of who you are, Dad.  I just pray for other dads that they love their children and love their wives the way my Dad loved my mom and loved us.  Even today, Dad, I’m next to the baby and I keep the family together, Dad, because once a year, twice a year, I will get them altogether, and we have dinner together, Dad, just like we did at your house at New Year’s Day. 

Thank you, Dad and Mom, for being who you are.  You live to this day inside of me, Dad.  Every day I wake up, I see you, Dad.  I see you, I see your smile.  I see the way you walked and I see the way you talked to people.  Remember, Dad, I asked you did that man know you?  You said, “No, but I just think he thinks he knows me.”  But he would talk to me.  My son asks me the same thing, Dad. 

When people walk at me and start a conversation he would ask me Dad, do you know that guy?  I said, no but he knows me.  It's the same thing, Dad, it's happening all over again because of what you did.  Willie Fish, you're a godly man.  Even though you couldn't read you taught me how to love through the Word of God, and not only you couldn't read it, but you explained it to me. 

Dad, thank you for being my dad.  I wouldn't want anybody else to be my dad but you, Dad.  Thank you for loving Mama.  Thank you for the leadership and the authority in which you raised us in.  Thank you for the discipline. 

And most above, father, I want to thank you for that hug and that kiss and that little rub on my little round head, and saying, ”You’re going to be okay, son.”  Dad, I love you.  And one day, I'll spend eternity with you.  Thanks, Dad.

Bob:  You listen back to that and there’re some themes.  You heard him say “love” an awful lot.

Dennis:  You know there’s a side of me that says Bob we just need to close our broadcast in prayer.


You just thank about life that is well lived.  Obviously, Willie “Fish” Brown wasn’t perfect, we all know that.  He had his downsides and probably his contrary side to him by the time he died over 100 years of age.  But you could tell from the look on RV’s face when we asked him that question his dad had left the legacy, a profound imprint in his life. 

I think what he illustrates here for what we’re trying to challenge individuals to consider.  What kind of imprint are you leaving?  What’s the next generation going to remember about you?  What are your friends going to say about you at your memorial service?  Was it about you or was it about what God was doing? 

Bob:  Again, the theme of love shines through loud and clear.  I remember being at a going-away party for one of our coworkers a number of years ago and hearing the people on his staff step forward and talk about how much they knew that their boss had cared for them and prayed for them and loved them. 

I thought I don’t know of the folks who worked for me and step forward and say those kinds of things.  And it really gets you to stop and think “what is the legacy you’re leaving?  What do people remember about you?  What marks your life?”

Dennis:  Right.  What we’re trying to do here in these broadcasts is just give you some components of what comprises a legacy.  We’ve have already shared how a legacy really begins with your concept of who God is and whether or not you fear him.  Are you centered on him because if you don’t know who he is, your own life is not going to have context.  It's not going to have the eternal value that well Willie “Fish” Brown’s life had. 

And then, the second thing we talked about was how your legacy is determined by who your master is.  Are you going to be the master of soul, the captain of your own faith, or is there One Lord Jesus Christ that you’re surrendered to and submitted to?  I’m going to tell you, that’s the beginning right there, knowing who God is and surrendering your life to the savior are the beginnings of a great legacy. 

And then we moved to the theme, Bob, that you’ve been pointing us to here which is the third component of I think a godly legacy.  Your legacy is defined by the loves of your life.  You only need to look over in 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 to find out how important love is.  I know most of our listeners know about this probably one of the most famous chapters in all of the New Testament.

It says, “Love is patient and kind.  Love does not envy or boast.  It’s not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way.  It is not irritated or resentful.  It does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.”  Then the chapter concludes, “so now faith, hope and love abide these three, but the greatest of these is love.” 

I love a statement made by the author of the Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien.  He said, “The essential task of living is to put our loves in order,” I really like that. “The essential task of living is to put our loves in order.” 

So the first question is, “Who or what do you love?”  Earlier, Bob, I asked you the question, how would you summarize the concept of legacy?  And you said --

Bob:  I said it’s really about what have you valued in life?  What you leave as a legacy is a reflection of what you valued in your life.

Dennis:  Right.  And what you love is what you value.  So as we talk about the whole concept of what you love and who you love, you would expect us to begin here on FamilyLife Today by talking about “do you love God?”  I mean first and foremost, if you got him in first place, whoever or whatever is in second place, there’s going to be a whole lot more love to go around if you’re re loving God and allowing him to love you.  It’s just that simple. 

But I think we have to quickly move to our spouses and ask the question “do you really love your spouse?”  I believe, Bob, as I was preparing for this broadcast, I started thinking about this, I really think in this culture today perhaps one of the most significant components of our legacy is the commitment we have to our spouse. 

Our children are going up going to kindergarten and grade school, all the way through high school and to college, and I know because my children came back and told me, they said, “Dad, divorce is everywhere.  I mean all my friends are grown up in homes where people have thrown in the towel.”  You know, Bob, we don’t throw stones at people who get divorce.  In fact, I am sure there is a huge portion of our audience listening to our broadcast here who are divorced, and we welcome everyone to listen this broadcast to learn how to do it God’s way. 

But divorce isn't his way.  I think commitment is what God calls us to model and exemplify and to really demonstrate before our children.  So our children at the end of our lives they say, “Mom and Dad weren’t perfect but Mom and Dad were committed. They were committed to God and they were committed to one another.”

Bob:  There is something that is passed on to the next generation when they see a legacy of covenantal love lived out in a marriage relationship.  Even those who have been widely successful in the business world or in the sports arena or in the entertainment world but who have not been able to live out a faithful commitment in marriage we can celebrate their talents. 

But when it come right down to it, what's at the core of a person is not how far you can throw a football or how many Academy Awards you have on your shelf or how tall was the skyscraper you built.  What you really are looking for that resonates in the generational heartbeat is what was your character and how that gets lived out in the relationship between a husband and a wife is foundational.

Dennis:  It's made up of a zillion little decisions and little acts of love and little moments when we’re impatient with each other.  Then we have to say “we’re sorry.” 

The other night Barbara came to me and she said, “I am sorry.  I was short with you when you asked me that question.”  And honestly, Bob, I hadn’t noticed that she was short with me.  So I said, “What are you talking about?”  She said, “Oh you asked me about this gift that I have purchased.  I’d already told you once and I was just impatient with you because you asked me again.  I said, “Well, sweetheart, I really didn’t notice.”

Bob:  So did you then apologize for not paying attention to it?

Dennis:  No.  I really didn’t.  But I do want to say this because I know there’re some listeners hearing us talk about this and you may have not heard one of the assumptions about our legacies that I made earlier.  I want to restate this. 

Every legacy will be marred by sin.  No legacy is going to be accomplished without some mistakes but the key is perseverance.  And even if you’re divorced once, twice, God forbid, multiple times.  You know what, you can make a difference. 

There are those who are listening to this broadcast right now who received a legacy that they wish they hadn't received. Maybe it was a broken home.  Maybe it was a home filled with evil.  You know what, by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit and by the authority of God’s word; you can live a different legacy. 

You do not have to be imprisoned by the past legacy that was fostered upon you by those who perhaps didn’t know Jesus Christ.  It's back to what Tolkien said, “The essential task in life is to put your loves in order” to figure out how you’re going to love, how you’re going to love well that begins by loving God. 

Secondly you love your spouse, thirdly you love and pursue your children, you date your daughters, you go out on dates with your sons, and I’m talking about mom and dad at this point.  You just figure a way to pursue your children relationally when they’re little, when they get big and then when they’re adults.  You never stop pursuing them and loving them and letting them know that they are as one person said, “A child is a mom and dad’s heart walking around outside their body.”

Bob:  You know you listened back to what RV Brown reflected on when he looked back at his dad’s life.

Dennis:  And how many of those reflections were around relationships.

Bob:  That’s right, “thank you for your loving mom, I knew you loved mom.  Thank you for loving me and for rubbing my little round head,” to just listen to how much of that legacy revolved around the core of marriage and family and the love that was present there.  It really does have to be one of our key priorities as we built a legacy to pass on to the next generation.

Dennis:  I want to conclude with the Apostle Paul’s words, just remind you, I mean these resonate, “so now faith, hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” 

Someday, we’re all going to die.  People are going to be sad and there will be some songs and be some things said.  If you missed love, you missed life.  If you don’t know how to love, you need to find a mentor, someone you can attach yourself to, a same sex mentor at church and say, “You know what, I want you to teach me how to be a true lover of people.” 

I tell you it’s a lifelong pursuit, that’s all I can tell you. 

Bob:  You still learning?

Dennis:  Yes, I’m still learning.  It's a lifelong school you go to.  But that’s really what the scriptures are all about.  It's taking the God who exemplified love in Jesus Christ and explained love in him.  He gives us the assignment, some of us, of getting married and having children.  And then he takes us to school and he trains us in how to love.  A family is a great incubator to learn how to grow love.

Bob:  It's interesting because that is one of the lessons that is taught in the new VeggieTales DVD that we’ve been talking about this week.  It’s called It’s a Meaningful Life.  And Larry the Cucumber, I didn’t know this until this week, but he’s apparently a regular listener of FamilyLife Today and with this series in particular, tying in with the It's a Meaningful Life DVD.  He’s been paying particular attention and he is back with us again here today.  Larry, welcome to FamilyLife Today.

Larry:  Well, thank you.  Great to be back on.

Bob:  We have been talking about your new DVD which is called It's a Meaningful Life.  And in fact, a lot of the themes that you address in this DVD are themes we’ve been talking about.  And included with the DVD is an insert that we put together on how families can have a more meaningful life.  But I just wanted to ask you, one of the themes in this DVD has to do with a little girl who gets adopted, right?

Larry:  Yeah.  And the story – her name is Emma and she is my adopted daughter and she is a cutie pie.  And she’s actually – her voice was done by Stevey Joy Chapman, Steven Curtis Chapman’s daughter.  And so we are working with Steven Curtis and along with Show Hope and talking about adoption a little bit that way.

Bob:  Well, they’re great friends of ours and have been guests here on FamilyLife Today and of course, adoption is one of those themes that is near and dear to our heart as well.  It really is a part of the legacy that a family lives when they invest in, when they bring into the family a new member like this.

Larry:  Oh yeah, absolutely, and that plays a big part in our story “Meaningful Life” to show really what the life of this little girl would have been like if I hadn't been there to adopt her.  I think it's a pretty powerful message.

Bob:  Well, and I hope our listeners will watch the DVD and get a copy of it.  In fact, this week, we are making the DVD available to those folks who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  We’re listener supported and so we depend on donations from our listeners to be able to keep this program on this station and on our network of stations all across the country. 

And this week, again, if you can help with a donation of any amount, you can request a copy of the It’s a Meaningful Life DVD from our friends at VeggieTales.  If you make your donation online at, just type the word “MEANING” into the key code box so we know to send you a copy of the DVD, or call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329.  Make your donation over the phone and just ask for a copy of the “It’s a Meaningful Life” DVD.  And again, we’re happy to send it to you. 

We do appreciate your financial support at the ministry.  Without your partnership, this program would not be heard on this station and our network of stations all across the country.  So, thanks for the part that you play as you help support the ministry.

Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about the connection between the legacy you leave to future generations and how you demonstrate honor to your parents.  There is a connection we’ll talk about it tomorrow.  I hope you can be with us.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Help for today!    Hope for tomorrow!

We are so happy to provide these transcripts. However, there is a cost to produce them for our website. If you've benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would you consider donating today to help defray the costs?

2010 Copyright ©FamilyLife. All rights reserved.