Just a thought: It is what we leave behind that counts

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The value of your life is measured by what you give away...nothing more, nothing less.

Our lives are lived and then they are gone. We leave behind what we leave behind. We can add to this world or we take from it. As you walk this planet you choose to be a consumer or to be a contributor. At the end of your days, you can’t take any of this world with you. It is what you leave behind that counts.

Several years ago I saw a T-Shirt that said, “I INTEND TO LIVE FOREVER, OR DIE TRYING.” Without knowing the gentleman who was wearing the shirt, I know how his story is going to end. Or do I? Maybe he will live forever through what has invested in others...

You see, where you are today is the result of others who have invested in you. You are a product today of your past. Where you are on life’s journey is the result of others pouring their lives into you, mixed with what you have chosen to do with their investments. Others are still investing in you at this time.

One of my favorite sayings is “What we receive dies with us, what we give lives on after we are gone.” When I breathe my last breath, whatever has been invested into me goes with me, what I have invested in others will live on. I don’t know how many days you or I have ahead, but I do know that both of us have one less day than we did yesterday at this time.

Understand that we all must consume from this world to some degree to continue to exist. Yet some consume far more than others. Consuming to a lesser degree is not bad, but over consuming results in us taking advantage of others. An over-consuming mentality is regularly asking the question “What’s in this for me?” It is an inward focus with a mentality that the world owes me and I am going to take everything I can get from it.

The truth be known, most of us live selfish lives. Our world is “I” oriented. We wake up in the morning and before getting out of bed assess what we can take from the day ahead. We then get angry when something doesn’t go our way or when someone or something takes advantage of us. It is living in the “it is all about me” world.

Many years ago, I heard about a story about a golfer who won a major tournament. As he was leaving the golf course pro shop, a lady stopped him and told him her son was sick and needed surgery. She asked him if he could help her out financially. With compassion for her son, he wrote a large five digit check.

The next day as he was returning to the pro shop, a local, who had seen the exchange the day before, stopped him and explained to him that he had been taken advantage of. The lady he donated to did not even have a son. Surprised, the golfer’s response was simple and straight forward, “Great, then he doesn’t need surgery!”

The golfing pro’s immediate response was not that he had been taken to the cleaners, but that a little boy was not sick. This is being “other” oriented and not “self” oriented.

Those who contribute to this world are focused on making a difference in the lives of others. Contributors ask the question “Is there a need out there that I have been blessed with the opportunity to fill?” They ask questions such as “What is it that I have received that can be used to make a positive difference in the lives of others?”

You see, whether it is time, finances, material possessions, prayers, or any other means or abilities that you have been given, you have something to offer others that can touch and change their lives. It is getting up in the morning and as you look at the day ahead thinking through what you can do to pour your life into others.

It is the concept of drilling an oil well in your neighbor’s back yard. It doesn’t benefit you at all, but it pays dividends for your neighbor for years to come. Investing in others equips others to fly higher and hopefully they will sow your investment in their lives as they pay it forward into the lives of others.

So what do you do with what you have been given? What do you do with what you have developed in your own life? What do you do with the gift set that is within you? Who do you influence? Who do you pour yourself into? Whose lives do you add value to?

It is possible that your greatest contribution in this world is a single life that you pour yourself into. It may be a child or it may be an adult. We can only hope that those who we pour ourselves into go further and accomplish more than we are able to in the years that we have.

My challenge to you is to regularly and routinely ask the right questions. If you ask the right questions, you will get the right result. Seek to avoid the “What can I get out of this?” question and instead ask “What can I do to positively impact the lives of others, to add value to the lives I influence?”

Whether you choose to recognize it or not, you have been truly blessed with what you have. Whether you are thankful for what you have or angry over what you don’t have, you still have the same things. What do you have that you can use to make a difference in the lives of others?

If you ask the right questions, you will get the right results. In the life you live, you need to primarily be a contributor, not a consumer. What you invest in others will live on after you are gone, what you receive inside you will die with you.

And the truth be known, at the end of your days when others measure the life you have lived, it is what you leave behind in those you have contributed to that count.

Just a thought...

Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.

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