We are given so much. It can be too easy to take it all for granted – or, even to have our minds mutate into a state of entitlement, “I am owed a happy life!”
It is my right as claimed in the Declaration of Independence, “…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” and I want it – insist on it – demand it – will fight others for it.
Maybe there is no other way for most of us to get there aside from age and experience – the acute awareness that happiness is not granted, let alone guaranteed, by anything in this world outside of ourselves.
When young, we might pursue and even find a carefree happiness through play – just joyfully interacting with the world about us. A little older and we seek a sense of wellbeing through inclusion by our peers. We gravitate to the attractive group and find the right ways to “fit ourselves to it.”
In young adulthood, we seek the careers that will secure us a comfortable spot in the middle class, or better. A place from which we can showcase our worthiness through the visible acquisition of goods – nice home with fine furnishings, a couple of cars, and toys, toys, toys – all on the credit readily extended because of our ability to work impressive hours and earn notable salaries. We’ve got great credit karma!
Then, after time passes, something happens. We reach the age when today is lost in a blur of frenzied pursuit and looking back loses its luster. The things we enjoyed so much fade in memory. Yes, we’ve got the pictures to look at, but where did the flavor go?
It is a turning point. An important one. At this juncture in life, we can tail off into reminiscence – fixation on the better days now gone. It is a road to chronic sadness.
Or, we can recognize new cause for our lives – find new meaning in the very nature of our existence.
I think it is captured well in the deepest meaning of the term stewardship, “…the acceptance or assignment of responsibility to shepherd and safeguard the valuables of others.”
There are words in that definition that matter greatly
- Responsibility. The Legacy Career entails obligation – obligation to ensure the protection (safeguard) and careful direction (shepherd) of the resources and gifts (valuables) that have come to our hands in this life.
- Assignment. As it relates to the discovery and acceptance of our Legacy Careers, I tend to think of it as a search for the primary duty that is being assigned to us in this life.
- Others. The Legacy Career is by its nature not about self, but about others. It is not about acquisition. It is about giving – serving.
The greatest “valuable of others” over which we have the obligation of stewardship is that of our own lives. It is the highest level of hubris to believe that just because we exist, we are granted exclusive privilege to our own lives. And, that in the pursuit of our constitutionally-guaranteed right to happiness, we have some Creator-given sanction to live our lives as we wish.
I propose a different view. I suggest that when we view our lives – our very existence – as an intentional gift from some Greater Unknown, then we must accept the highest responsibility of using this gift to create the greatest good for the world we will leave behind when the gift, as we know it, expires.
With the breaths still in us, we have the opportunity to make the choice of service over self – to seek out and accept our assignment, and through our carefully considered actions to live a final career of legacy.
Yours in faith, character, and service –