You're Making An Impact But Is It the One You Want?


Jan leads a successful Christian non-profit which she founded herself. People in her community respect her as a leader and admire her. She enjoys serving.

However, Jan knows there’s a blemish on her reputation: she sometimes blows up with anger. Even minor frustrations set her off. It’s not pretty when it happens and it happens more frequently that she’d like to admit. Jan realizes her pattern of lashing out has been taking a toll on her friendships and marriage.  

She recalls how her mother and father frequently argued during her childhood years – her mother threatening and screaming.

She always vowed to herself to never to be like her mother and to never create a relationship like her parents’ relationship. Yet, in her more honest moments, she acknowledges that she seems trapped in the same cycle of destructive behaviors.

Jan reflected on her own two children and the example she is leaving for them.

Fortunately for them (and Jan’s husband and colleagues), Jan then decided at some deep level to do whatever was necessary to find healing and make a change.

This was not the “emotional legacy” that she wanted to pass on to her children nor, for that matter, any of the several young women in her organization that looked up to her as a role model.

Fact is, we’re all leaving an emotional legacy. We affect our children and those we lead either positively or negatively by how well we manage our emotions.  

Two questions to ask yourself (or, possibly, to even ask others):

  • Do people experience you as cynical? Impatient? Pessimistic? Moody? Short-tempered? Argumentative?

    Do people experience you as patient? Calm under pressure? Optimistic in the face of difficulty? Loving? Kind? Gentle? Encouraging?

Scripture addresses those two questions in the phrase “fruit of the Spirit”. I put them in the emotional intelligence category of “personal mastery”.

I recently heard blogger and pastor Carey Nieuwhof tell of interviewing international evangelist Luis Palau. Luis in his younger years knew Billy Graham personally. He said the Billy was even more kind and patient off stage as he was on stage! He said, “I always left him feeling encouraged.”

That was Billy’s emotional legacy to the then young minister Luis Palau.

So, I leave you with a few questions for reflection or personal journal writing:

  • What emotional legacy did you inherit?

  • What emotional legacy do you want to leave for others?

  • What do you need to do to ensure you leave the emotional legacy you prefer?


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