Elephants remember...legacy is important. butti s@pixabay
What would you do if you knew you only had six months to live?
That’s the premise of the beautiful and quiet film, Living. The movie is based on a screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro and adapted from the 1952 Japanese film, “Ikiru” which was directed by the acclaimed Akira Kurosawa.
Set in 1953 post-war London where everyone (and I mean everyone) is formally addressed, we meet Mr. Rodney Williams, a rigid, melancholy manager and paper-pusher in a Public Works office.
Williams, played by Bill Nighy, who has rightly been nominated for an Academy Award for his performance, learns that he has six months to live.
Unlike other films where the dying develop a hunger to go and do what they’ve always wanted to do to feed their own interests (see The Bucket List), “Living” is a study on legacy.
What will you be remembered for after you leave this earthly plain?
Williams is faced with this question. And as his pre-death mission becomes clear, he is transformed. He begins to think about his final mission – one that will impact a generation or two beyond him. As a result, he becomes more of who he was meant to be all along.
Do you think people in your congregation wonder what their legacy will be?
Are you helping them discover it?
Perhaps the easiest thing to pluck is that low-hanging fruit:
1. Make sure people in your congregation have their financial affairs in order. And…let them know that a legacy gift to your congregation or organization will have a long-lasting impact for generations to come.
Two-thirds of Americans do not have a will. You read that right. Once a year, bring in an estate attorney to talk about what it takes to draw up a will. You will make many family members happy. Send this article from Forbes to people in your congregation: How to Include Charities in Your Will to Leave a Legacy.
Here’s another way to help your people think about their legacy:
2. Talk to them. Find out what they love about your congregation.
Is there an immediate need they might be interested in funding? How about a long-held dream of the church that matches the long-held dream of the person you’re talking to?
If you don’t engage in those conversations – because you’re so busy with the other million things you have to do – you’ll miss a potentially sacred opportunity. Aren’t these the kind of conversations that drew you into ministry in the first place?
The point is: don’t wait ‘til you find out you have a terminal illness to leave a legacy. We serve a living God who asks us to make a difference each and every day. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have many legacies in this world. But maybe most important and best of all…you can help others to find theirs too.
Want other ideas on legacy giving? Check out these posts:
The Church Talks about Death! Advance Directives
The Church Talks about Death! Legacy Giving
The Church Talks about Death! Starting the Conversation
Legacy Giving: Love that Low-Hanging Fruit – Part 1
Legacy Giving: Love that Low-Hanging Fruit – Part 2
And don’t forget! You still have time to help your people feel loved at Valentine’s Day. Read Don’t Let the Valentine’s Trumpets Win.
We pray for our brothers and sisters in Turkey and Syria. If you want to help financially, the United Methodist Committee on Relief is providing grants through International Blue Crescent. You can donate to UMCOR here. Here is an additional list of relief organizations where you can donate.