Friday, March 13, 2009

Building A Legacy

It is never too late to start building a legacy. A legacy is what we hand down to those in the next generation. What are you handing down to those in your family and to those you come in contact with each day of your lives? Let me share about two men who handed down fruitful, powerful legacies.

My father. Chet Bruette, died on Labor Day of 2004 at the age of 95. He would have been 100 on March 10. I miss him a lot. Saying good-bye is never easy no matter how old the person you love is. The things I remember from dad will stick with me always. What was the legacy that he left with me? A couple of things I think are worth sharing:

1. Accept people where they are. Dad never dismissed anyone out of hand. No matter where you came from, you had a chance to be a part of his life. Consequently, there were so many who loved him and remember him with such fond memories. He would help you, share with you, work for you, fish with you and be a friend with you if you could and would accept it. He liked real people -- people who didn't try to be someone they weren't. He was real.

2. Have your priorities in order. God, family, job and others. They were all an intermingled flow out of dad's life. He was fiercely loyal to his family. We were everything to him. Each child was a special source of pride to him. And he let us know it. By the way, he was an affectionate man with his wife and kids. I never had much trouble grasping God the Father's love in no small part because of my dad's love for me.

3. Work is honorable. Work helped define my dad. He worked so hard and always let us know that anything worthwhile is worth working hard for. He provided for us and never put our family is a debt situation. Pay as you go was how he went through life and it was so important to save for whatever might come up in the future.

I look forward to spending eternity with my dad and mom. Someone said you can only take people with you to heaven. My mom and dad lived out their lives in such a way that it created a desire on my part to live with eternity's values in view. Thanks, dad for leaving me the greatest legacy that anyone could leave a child. I am forever grateful.

My father-in-law, Jim Erickson, was another man who left a great legacy for his family and for me. He died in 2006 at the age of 79. He was an example in how to live well and how to die well. With God's help, he did both. Maybe the greatest lesson I learned from him was to be the same Christian, the same person wherever you went and whatever situation you found yourself in. He was that kind of man. He was the founder and pastor of our church after being a successful businessman for many years. I saw him in many different circles and was amazed at the consistency of his Christian testimony. He wasn't one person in church and a different person at home -- or at his place of business -- or in a restaurant -- or working out at the YMCA. He lived out his life for Christ and let his light shine wherever he went. He was known by all for his enthusiasm and love for Jesus in every place he moved.

He would say that our lives are like a house with many rooms and God wants to be prominent in every room. We can't give him 95 per cent and keep 5 for ourselves. It doesn't work that way. If God isn't in control of your computer room or your television room, or any other part of your life, then you are out of order and God will deal with you. He wants all of us and deserves all of us. Thank you, Jim Erickson, for leaving me such a powerful legacy. I am eternally grateful. Your memory will always inspire me to do my best and be my best for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

By the way, Jim hugged and kissed his daughter and sons right through adulthood. I am thankful to say my kids love to hug and kiss their parents. And I especially love it that my adult son hugs and kisses his dad.

So, my friend, Up North Wisdom asks -- what kind of legacy are you leaving for those who know you. It is never too late to start a new and positive direction in your life. If you've blown it in many areas, ask God and others to forgive you and with the help of the Holy Spirit, move ahead to new and better things. Remember, with His help and your commitment, The Best Is Yet To Come. Believe it!

Pastor Jerry


  1. I hope what I hand down to my children is as good as what you have given me. You have taught me to be committed to my church, family and friends. You have taught me how important a fathers relationship with her daughter is. Tim will be taking Amelia out for lunches all the time. You have also taught me to be as funny as I can be. Life is humorous. Nobody else might think we're funny but hey, nobody laughs louder at our own jokes than ourselves right:) I love you!

  2. I believe legacy leaves light behind us, making it easier to take the next step on a path God often only lights one step at a time. I am thankful for those who brave enough to leave a legacy of good things or God things... I know how I should love, act, and work because of it. Jerry, It sure helps as I see the light up ahead you are leaving as a legacy. My path is easier because of it. I pray we can continue to take one step at a time on the path God is leading us, even if it scares me to death!
    Love ya, Tony