Most people dream. Few people achieve their dreams. Even more, only a small handful pass along a legacy to the next generation – at least intentionally.
Jim Stovall was an Olympic weight-lifter before losing his eyesight. Then, he began writing. The Ultimate Gift became a classic movie and The Ultimate Life will be released as a movie directed by Michael Landon Jr. in September. In Stovall’s latest book, The Gift of a Legacy (David C. Cook), he says “Dreams, and the fulfillment of them, are the exclusive territory of great people.”
A legacy is something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor and in Stovall’s writing, passing on something greater than wealth is a recurring theme. A motivational speaker as well as writer, Stovall believes we miss pivotal opportunities to enlighten and inform later generations with wisdom that can best be imparted by lessons and example.
“I have found that the pleasant surprises in life come not from the things we know but from the things we thought we knew before we had the opportunity to relearn them,” says Stovall. His life has clearly proven this to be true. He now says, “Our lives are lived a day at a time, and our legacy is made up of these days.” This is a reminder that life is never static yet we live with the illusion that tomorrow will be just like today.
Stovall encourages us to think forward; not forgetting completely the past but not dwelling there either. He suggests we think about the difference our lives can make, the impact we can have for God, for our families, for the lives of countless people we see every week. “When you face your own mortality, you contemplate how much life you have lived versus how much you have left.”
“Who we are is a tribute to those who have left us a legacy. Who we help others become will be our legacy,” says Stovall. While contemplating our legacy today may not be high on the list of things to do, Stovall’s advice follows a long list of biblical tradition and serves as a reminder that our lives and dreams make a difference not just for today, but for future generations.
About this book: “Just tell me how I can get my money and get out of here.”
About the author: (from his website) Jim Stovall has been a national champion Olympic weightlifter, the President of the Emmy Award-winning Narrative Television Network, and a highly sought after author and platform speaker. He is the author of the best-selling book, The Ultimate Gift, which is now a major motion picture starring James Garner and Abigail Breslin.
For his work in making television accessible to our nation’s 13 million blind and visually impaired people, The President’s Committee on Equal Opportunity selected Jim Stovall as the Entrepreneur of the Year. He was also chosen as the International Humanitarian of the Year, joining Jimmy Carter, Nancy Reagan, and Mother Teresa as recipients of this honor.
Special thanks to Don Otis of Veritas Communications for providing content for this post.
End Notes: It seems to me that a part of our legacies are the stories we leave behind. Our life stories. When my husband’s father passed away last fall, we discovered that the most precious gift he gave us was a series of recordings he’d made, telling–in his own voice, with his own words–bits of his life’s story. I am in the process of trying to convince my own parents to do the same, and it’s something that my husband and I have vowed to do for our children. But what about you? What have you experienced as a valuable legacy, or would like to pass on as one?
If these ideas resonate with you, you may also be interested in this post, Confessions of a Hypocrite, by Jack Popjes.