The Gift of Guidance

TAGS: legacy, iron legacy, Advice: A Larger Perspective, advice, Mark Dugdale


Legacy: A gift transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor, something that is passed on. What I find of particular interest in the previous definition is the assertion that legacy is a gift.

I'm the father of three girls. Two are teens and one is on the cusp of her teenage years. They're wonderful young ladies and, at times, exceedingly frustrating. I live in the tension of hormones run amuck, in the tension of that growing up process in which parental control is slowly loosened and new-found freedoms are tested. My wife Christina and I dance the dance of shifting from issuing rules to offering advice. A distinct difference exists between the two.

For example, advice is like a gift. The choice to follow the advice lies in the hands of the recipient, not the giver. In a world in which media and peers continually bombard my daughters with advice, it often feels like mine struggles to take root. The same scenario plays itself out in the gym.

The gym scene is ripe with dudes full of hormones and opinions. Not unlike a One Direction concert girls my daughters age might attend, only the emotive fans possess an XY chromosome configuration. I cringe at some of the ideas floated between sets. Amidst all the chatter, some sound advice exists. Yet some just simply don’t heed advice, even when it’s good. It can be as frustrating as trying to…well…encourage three daughters to wisely navigate their way to womanhood.

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So are you with me? Are you feeling my exasperation? Has your advice fallen on deaf ears? What are we to do with those who don’t listen? I want to turn your thinking on its head. Are you ready? I think the consternation lies not in the fact that the recipient discards the advice but in the selfishness of the one who offered it. Yeah, I just called you selfish. If it makes you feel any better, you can put me in the same category. Let’s circle back to the definition of legacy.

Nowhere in the definition does it say that the ancestor or predecessor transmitted the gift with strings attached; it’s simply passed on. That’s it. Perhaps our annoyance is more a reflection of a selfish heart because we gave a gift with expectations. Who are you serving—the individual or yourself?

I still recall the excitement of giving a present to my daughters when they were young only to watch them take more interest in the box than the gift it contained. I can’t imagine getting pissed off at them because they didn’t share my enthusiasm for the new toy or respond in the manner that I had anticipated. Biblically speaking, the Apostle Paul helped me see things through a wider lens in a letter he wrote to the Church in Corinth. Paul states that we are all assigned various tasks in regards to the spread of the gospel. Some will plant and others will water, but God makes them grow.

Advice is like a seed and the same person who plants the seed isn’t necessarily the same person who will water, cultivate, or one day harvest it. This doesn’t diminish the value of the one planting the seed any more than it elevates the one who eventually harvests. Therefore, keep giving the gift and planting the seed even if you don’t see it come to fruition. One day someone else may reap the harvest of the seed you planted and vice versa. Look at the larger perspective and live, learn, and pass on.

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