John Maxwell illustrates the negative outcome of unfulfilled potential by sharing the story of his friend Florence Littauer. Florence Littauer, a speaker and author, wrote a story in her book Silver Boxes about her own father, who always wanted to be a singer but never was. She says he died with the music still inside of him.
I have a book on my bookshelf written by a distant relative of mine. His name was Charles Wesley Pope and he was a pastor in Johnson City, Tennessee. I bought the book in the picture after searching for it for over four months. I bought the only copy I could find, and when I got couldn’t believe my eyes—his signature was in the front of the book. I love this book, but I can only hold it today because he wrote it yesterday! Here is my point: I am so glad that he wrote it, and didn’t just take the story inside him to his grave. What a terrible loss it would have been if that book, like Florence Littauer’s fathers music, was never published.
Here is some insight on how to make sure you leave your gifts here for those that follow you:
1. Establish the value of heirlooms. Ask yourself: “If I could have one item that was passed down from my great-great-grandfather or grandmother, what would I want that item to be?” Would it be a picture, a Bible, an article of clothing or a piece of jewelry? How important would it be to you?
2. Pick at least one item that you would like to pass down to your future generations. It could be a diary, an item of clothing, a tool, a knife, a piece of jewelry. Don’t let others pick it for you after you are gone, you pick what you want to pass on now.
3. Take pictures of the item and write out a description of what that item means to you on the back of the picture. If anything ever happens to the heirloom, there will still be a picture of it and a description from you.
4. Tell stories to your kids and your grandkids. Build value and appreciation for items that you’re passing on by telling the stories that make it special. They may not care when they are young, but they will remember when they are older when family and heritage will mean so much more to them.
What are you leaving behind for your kids and the generations that will come after you? Is there a painting you are supposed to paint, a book you should write, a diary you need to complete? Maybe you have wanted to take a family photo but you keep putting it off. Some of you might be wanting to share a special collection of items that you have spent years collecting. Find what you want to pass on, and ensure that you do pass it on. Someone will be so thrilled that you did—just as I was when I found that book—and will be telling everyone they know about the item you left behind! Don’t take your gifts to the grave! Sow them behind!!!