Leaving a Legacy

My grandfather died in his sleep a little over two months ago. He was my hero. My Poppy. I never realized how much of an impact he had on my life until his time here on Earth was through. Here’s a quick take on his legacy and what it means to me.

The Bible tells us there is a difference between those who grieve with hope and those who grieve with no hope. For those of us who know Jesus Christ as our personal Lord, we grieve with hope. I have the hope that I will one day be reunited with Poppy in the presence of the King of Kings.

Tom Ziglar, Zig Ziglar’s son, says a legacy is so much more than inheritance. An inheritance is physical; legacy is spiritual. You leave a legacy by instilling the habits and discipline that build character, integrity, and wisdom.

Legacy is much bigger and much broader than inheritance because it is spiritual. It is the reputation, character, integrity, and wisdom that is successfully transferred.

Zig Ziglar talked about the wheel of life. The wheel of life consists of seven core areas:

  • Mental
  • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Family
  • Financial
  • Personal
  • Career

Zig said that just like the wheels on a car need to be balanced, so does the wheel of our life. With this in mind, I think Poppy led one of most balanced lives I know of. I’d like to share with you my perspective of his life and legacy.


Poppy made sure to keep his brain sharp. He was always reading, learning and asking questions. At every opportunity, he encouraged me to do the same. We would talk on the phone and he would ask me how I was doing in school. Then there was his consistent refrain “Well good. Ask good questions.”

The other night, someone dear to me described me as someone who asks good questions and I couldn’t help but smile. And now I have the opportunity to repeat that refrain with my own children. I drop my oldest son off at kindergarten each morning with the same exhortation Poppy gave me throughout my life. Ask good questions.

He taught me to push through difficulty with mental toughness. His back was in pain yet he would make the trip from Little Rock to Baltimore to pick up my brother and me. He would turn right back around to take us back with him despite the pain.

The next area of a balanced wheel is physical.

Again, Poppy set the example in this area. He loved to bike. He participated in the senior Olympics. We would swim at the lake house and he would lead the way to the island where we would skip rocks. If it wasn’t swimming or biking we were canoeing or water skiing. The other physical activity he enjoyed was golfing. He would take us to play mini golf. He taught me how to putt and deal with the frustration that comes with it!

I fell in love with biking at a young age, in large part because that’s how I could get around but I know too that Poppy’s love for it also played a large part.


The next area on the wheel of life is the area of the family. I can’t think of anyone who would disagree with me when I say that Poppy poured into his children. Their children are also now building on the legacy Poppy crafted. I’m now building on his legacy within my own family. How did he do this? Poppy loved well. He treated us as we would want to be treated. He allowed the fruit of the Holy Spirit to be well developed in him. He was a gentle teacher; patient. Self sacrificing.

We would spend time picking wild blackberries and then make ice cream or jam. I love blackberries. My children have me a blackberry bush for Father’s day. I’m looking forward to enjoying them together with them for years to come. Yes because they’re tasty, but more to create memories and connections with them.


I was never privy to the financial details of Poppy and Nana’s life; however, there are some things I can infer from their actions.

First, Poppy was wise. He wouldn’t spend money wastefully. His frugality is definitely a trait I strive to emulate. He lived on less than he made and saved for the future.

Second, he was generous. His generosity was something I constantly saw when I visited. Whether it was through his time, talent, or treasure he was always giving something away. In other words, he put his money where his mouth was. I’m in awe of the generosity he showed my brother and me through all those years of airfare and trips from Baltimore. I loved seeing the toys, bowls, pens, and other wooden items he crafted. I was always so proud to hear someone tell me about some wooden creation Poppy had crafted for them and what a treasure it was too the recipient.

Personal and career:

The realm of personal growth and development coincide with Poppy’s career pretty closely so I will address both of those together.

He was a pastor, professor, coach, teacher, father, golfer, and so much more. He was my hero.

Poppy balanced the wheel out in these areas through his education. He held a Ph.D. He was constantly reading. In all his professions he used his educational training in psychology to love people well.

So many folks received a pen from Poppy. He enjoyed making them and they were great gifts. He made most of them from wood.

Well, one day we had finished making a pen and we were about to start another one when Poppy asked me what type of wood I wanted to use. I saw a piece of stone, I think it is granite, sitting on the shelf. It was about the size of a pen blank. So I asked if we could make a pen out of it. I remember Poppy’s response so clearly. He kind of chuckled and said “Well I don’t know, but let’s find out”. So we made a pen out of it, and as far as I know, it’s one of a kind.


The Spiritual spoke.

It’s no surprise to those who knew him that Poppy was a Christian. He was a pastor and obedient servant of God. This is the part of Poppy’s legacy I am most thankful for. During my visits to see Poppy and Nana, he was always leading us in prayer. He was a wonderful example of seeking Christ in all things. I remember going to church with him and being struck by how loudly and deeply he sung.

Now I lead my own family in seeking Jesus. We attend a church where the Bible is preached as the inerrant, infallible, and inspired Word of God. We pray together and sing together. At each opportunity, we reinforce the story of the Gospel.

This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

God has a perfect plan and design but sin entered the world and our hearts.

Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Sin caused brokenness and people try to fix this brokenness through many different things. But the only thing which can fix our brokenness is the Gospel. When we repent of our sins and believe that Jesus is the Son of God and died to pay the penalty for our sin we can then turn and pursue God’s redemption plan in our lives.

One of the best ways any of us could honor Poppy’s legacy is to proclaim the truth of this Gospel. So how will you respond to the Gospel?