Father’s Day is a time to celebrate and to remember our fathers and our father-figures, the men who stepped into our lives when we needed them. For some Father’s Day is a joyous occasion, for others a painful reminder.
But whether we had a great father, a bad father, or no father; whether we’re a man or a woman; whether we’re a father or not, we can leave a legacy. We can be the kind of person we all wanted our fathers to be.
What is the legacy that you want to leave? How do you want to be remembered?
Three Things Remain
Have a volunteer read 1 Corinthians 13.
If you want to leave something behind that will outlast your life, if you want to leave a mark that will never go up in smoke and will remain, long after you’re gone, it comes down to faith, hope, and love.
We use the term faith a lot, and we often mistakenly use it when we simply mean “believe intellectually.” But faith is more than just belief; faith is the combination of belief and trust.
Picture yourself standing in front of a particularly rickety looking rope bridge over a deep canyon. Next to you is a structural engineer who tells you that the bridge will support your weight. You believe her. In your head know she’s right.
But will you walk across the bridge?
If not, you may believe the engineer, but you don’t trust her. If you do walk across it, you not only believe, you trust. You have faith.
If you say you have faith in Jesus, it means that you not only believe that Jesus is the son of God but that you trust Jesus. And if you trust Jesus, you’ll act according to what he says. You’ll follow his principles, because you trust that they are actually what is best.
The Bible says that without faith it’s impossible to please God.
It’s by grace you are saved, through faith, in Jesus Christ
A person’s relationship with God and his or her eternal destiny depends on faith, so it’s very, very big.
Do you have faith in Jesus?
If your answer is yes, how is your faith evident in your life? Are there areas where your faith needs to grow?
If your answer is no, is it because you believe but have trouble trusting or because you don’t believe?
Note to Leaders: This is meant to provoke an honest discussion. If someone is willing to be vulnerable enough to say that they don’t truly have faith either because they have trouble trusting or because they don’t believe, don’t let others in the group badger them. It’s our job to help people take the next step on their spiritual journey, not shame them or verbally badger them into submission.
Gene talked about the importance of leaving a legacy of faith with your kids, but it’s not just your own kids that need someone to leave them with a faith legacy, it’s simply kids in general. There are kids out there who don’t have parents who know Jesus or whose parents aren’t great role models. And even for those kids with great parents, having other adults in their lives who model Christlikeness is vital.
How can you help leave a legacy of faith in the life of a child, whether yours or someone elses?
Sometimes life slams you in the face. You might call it getting the hope kicked out of you: emotionally, financially, physically, relationally, or professionally.
We think of David as the man God chose to be king, the man who reigned over Israel for decades, the man who defeated Goliath.
But there was a long, long period where David was on the run from Saul, the king who ruled before David. During this time, David was surrounded by men who were disgruntled and in debt. Later in life David lost a newborn son, and another one of his sons tried to depose him as king.
As we read the Psalms written by David, we see that he put his hope not in his status as king or his possessions. He put his hope in God and in the promises that God had made to him.
Life may be hammering you right now, but we have a savior who was hammered to a cross, and even though he was dead and buried, he came back to life. We have a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
How can you provide hope to those around you who are hopeless?
Is there an area of your life currently where you need hope? Take a few minutes as a group to pray for the needs expressed.
Note to Leaders: This may be a difficult question for some. You need to gauge your group and whether you should tackle this one.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that while faith, hope, and love remain, the greatest of these three is love.
Have you ever wondered why love is the greatest? It’s because while you can leave behind a legacy of faith, hope, and love after you die, love is the only one of the three that’s going with you to the other side.
If you had faith in Jesus Christ in this life, you won’t need any faith when you get to heaven, because you’ll see Him face to face. When you get to heaven, you won’t need any hope because there’s no pain, no tears, no sickness, no divorce papers, no motionless ultrasounds, no empty tissue boxes, no anxious waiting rooms, no death.
But heaven is filled with love, because God is love, just as we see in Jesus.
And in order for love to have any value it must be expressed. Unexpressed love is worthless.
The most important characteristic a parent can instill in a son or daughter is the sense that he or she is loved. The most important thing a husband can convince his wife of is that she is loved like Christ loved the church.
Have a volunteer read Mark 12:28-31.
In fact, Jesus says that the most important thing that any one of us can do for anyone else is to love them.
Has there ever been a time in your life when someone expressed love to you in a particularly notable or meaningful way?
Who in your life is it challenging for you to love? What are some practical things you can do to show love towards that person? (This could be anyone, a child, a spouse, a co-worker, a boss, a parent, a friend, a neighbor. Obviously the way to express love to those various people would be very different.)
Who in your life needs an extra measure of love right now? Maybe they’re going through a difficult season, maybe they just don’t have many people around who love them, it could be for any reason? How can you make them feel loved?
Spend a few minutes thinking about the legacy that you want to leave. Consider the legacy you want to leave in your family, in your neighborhood, with your friends, in your church, at your job.
Chances are, there’s a gap for all of us between the legacy we want to leave and the way that we’re living now. A couple of weeks ago we talked about setting SMART goals with our finances, but you can set SMART goals in any area of life.
Once you’ve thought through the gap between your life now and the legacy you want to leave, set one or two SMART goals that will help you close that gap. Remember that SMART goals are:
Specific – You’re clearly stating what you’re going to do. For instance, don’t say my goal is to “love my kids more.” Say, “My goal is to spend focused time with my children.”
Measurable – Make sure you can measure whether or not you’ve hit your goal. Don’t just set a goal to spend time with your children, set a goal to spend an hour each day with your children. Then you’ll know whether you’ve hit it.
Achievable – Don’t make your goal so hard that there’s no way you are going to accomplish it. If you’ve been at work until after your kids have gone to bed every night for three weeks, maybe you start with an hour three days a week.
Requires Faith – The goal should be achievable, but don’t make it so easy that there’s no point to setting the goal. Saying you’ll spend 15 minutes with your kids once a week is probably a goal that’s not worth setting.
Timely – Put a date on the calendar by which you’re going to accomplish your goal. Don’t just say you’re going to spend an hour a day with your kids, say you’re going to start doing it in two weeks and that you commit to doing it for at least a month.
That gives you time to adjust schedules as needed and then a date at which you can re-evaluate. Maybe you find that an hour isn’t enough. Or maybe having a whole day on the weekend would be more valuable than a single hour every day. You can set a new goal once you figure that out.