Heritage. Webster describes it as:
Something that is passed down to preceding generations.
Something inherited at birth, such as personal characteristics, status, and possessions.
Something that is reserved for a particular person or group, or a way of life.”
(Definition from TheFreeDictionary.com)
I grew up on a North Carolina farm as the daughter of a sharecropper.
Those were tough days for me as a kid. However, looking back on it now, I know that it was a goodly inheritance or heritage. When I look back on those days now, I know those were the years that helped to shape and develop me into the person that I am now–and the person that I continue striving to be.
My parents are with the Lord today. As I ponder these things, I think of some people who build up their finances to leave their kids great possessions, and to make sure that they are comfortable and taken care of (especially in the case of young children). There isn’t anything wrong with that.
Matter-of-fact, Solomon spoke of the wisdom of being frugal, having wisdom about finances, and making sure you take good care of your family.
He wrote in Proverbs 13:22, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” He also wrote about the vanity there was in leaving your wealth to children who didn’t labor for it. Ecclesiastes 2:21 declares, “Some people work wisely with knowledge and skill, then must leave the fruit of their efforts to someone who hasn’t worked for it. This, too, is meaningless and a great misfortune.”
My Mom and Dad didn’t leave any of their children a big fat bank account.
Nevertheless, the heritage they left us is tied up in things like:
- our faith;
- our prayer life;
- a love for the Word of God;
- being faithful to a church and to a pastor;
- having godly character;
- being good citizens;
- treating people right;
- having dignity and pride in our work; and, obviously,
- loving God and loving people.
So I want to talk to you about the characteristics of a goodly heritage.
The first characteristic of a goodly heritage is prayer.
There is a saying that says, “The family that prays together stays together.” That statement screams out the implication that the opposite is also true–namely, that the family that doesn’t pray together could possibly not stay together.
Many things stand out to me about growing up as the baby in a family of twelve, praying there was enough food left so I could eat. Being the baby, I was the one that was always looked after (mmmm that had its advantages and disadvantages), but the one thing that was paramount in our house was the discipline of prayer.
We prayed about anything and everything. We prayed at the dinner table, which seems obvious; but you really would be surprised at how many people sit down to eat and immediately begin to eat without thanking God for their “daily bread.”
We also prayed at Thanksgiving, and we prayed together at Christmas. We prayed when someone got in trouble, and we celebrated through prayer when there was a victory and an answer to prayer.
Prayer, and the family, were the glue that kept us all together. Prayer still keeps our relationships with one another together, even since my Mom and Dad went on to be with the Lord. Prayer–as stated earlier in the definition of ‘heritage’–is and was ‘A way of life’ for us.
Prayer is the fuel to your relationship with God.
Just as air is what keeps you breathing, prayer and fellowship with your Heavenly Father are what keep your spirit alive.
Many times, traveling all over the world, I have found that families that are generally close are the families that stay in touch with each other and with one another’s needs. But, more importantly, the close families are the ones who make a point to pray for each other, whether they are near or far apart.
2. A goodly work ethic.
A good work ethic is so important. When you are raising and investing in your children’s character development, and emulating to your kids how to carry their own weight in the household, you have to teach them a good work ethic.
Spring, summer, and fall were definitely some of our busiest times on the farm when I was growing up. It was a continuous pattern that was repeated over and over again. Year in and year out, we knew what was coming and what would be required out of all of us:
- getting up early;
- getting to bed early;
- knowing you had to get up early again the next day–and I’m talking 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning–; and
- being diligent to make sure we worked smart and with all diligence.
My Dad was very adamant about being careful to do things in such a way that no one had to come behind us. (I must confess, however, that there were times that I literally zipped through those fields, wanting to get home early and get out of the sun.)
The fall was a time of seed: planting the corn, the grains, and preparing the necessary things that would make the crop successful. The job of making sure that every “I” was dotted and every “T “ was crossed fell into the hands of my older siblings at first. Then, after a long while, that responsibility trickled down to the younger ones as the older siblings went their separate ways with jobs, marriage, and family.
I have carried this work ethic with me throughout my lifetime.
And now, my husband Jamie and I are working hard to plant a similar work ethic in our daughters.
My years in elementary school, middle school, and high school on the farm were filled with many chores after school. Then, in my banking days as a Branch Manager, I had to deal with the public. I had to give careful attention not only to being in charge of a branch bank, but also to being in charge of other people’s money. Believe me, that required a lot of discipline in many areas that I was taught, even on the farm.
Later on, going on to college to study ministry and music took a whole, brand-new discipline. I had to have a new level of courage and determination to live out my God-given purpose. That heritage affects me still to this day as I go about with my daily duties of being a wife, mother, co-pastor, author, traveling evangelist, missionary, mentor, and even being a good friend.
This word “W-O-R-K” is sometimes what I like to refer to as “an ugly word.”
It’s kind of like the word “W-A-I-T.” 🙂 It seems no one likes to “work,” and no one likes to “wait.” But when a farmer is getting ready for the harvest to come forth, the Bible says that he “waits for the precious fruit….”
I can tell you firsthand that, in the process of all that waiting, a lot of work has gone into the ground with the seed to make sure that the precious fruit of the harvest is going to be abundant.
Patriotism is defined as “A love of and devotion to one’s country and concern for its defense or national loyalty.” Many of my uncles and cousins served in the military in some capacity or another, so you can believe that we were very patriotic in our house.
My parents believed in honoring and respecting our police, military, and especially those who had authority over us. I believe it is our God-given gift and responsibility to teach and lead our children and grandchildren (by action) to have patriotism. Patriotism was a part of our “goodly heritage.”
First Peter 2:13-17 admonishes us to:
Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the King. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.”
I was taught to pray for our President and his Cabinet; for our mayor and our leaders; and to always give them the respect their positions deserved. I grew up in a culture where we would recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of The United States of America, followed by the Pledge to the Christian flag; followed by the morning prayer.
Many things have changed and shifted in our country and culture, but God’s Word still commands us to have patriotism.
I believe that when we have a goodly sense of patriotism, we will be blessed. As the Word says, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7). As part of our heritage as families of God, family of this nation, or whatever nation you may represent, let us “be ready for every good deed” (Titus 3:1b)–including demonstrating a godly patriotism.
4. Choosing the right mate.
Growing up, we were always taught that marriage is forever. You only have one opportunity, so make sure you do anything right–and that means, the first time! So, you can just about imagine the emphasis there was on choosing the right husband and wife.
My Mom and Dad had eight girls and four boys.
I sometimes wondered if my Dad wanted the exact opposite–eight boys and four girls–since we were raised on a farm. As you can imagine, the farm required a lot of physical labor. But, to the defense of most of my amazing brothers-in-law, they sometimes helped to carry the load along with their wives, my sisters .(Smile, guys!) 🙂
The routine was the same for all of us. We would meet someone and talk about them to our Mom. Then, Mama began to talk about them to our daddy. The conversation would go something like this:
Mama, “Well I heard so and so, (pick a name, any name of us eight girls) had an interest in a boy.
Daddy, “Who is he and where is he from?”
Mama, “Well he’s from over there at so and so (the town, or community).”
Daddy: “Who’s his people? (This was always a big one for my Dad.)
Mama: “I think they told me he was what’s his name’s son.”
Daddy: “Well, who is what’s his name?”
Mama: “You know, So and so…” (My mama’s inching her way through because my Dad had high standards for his daughters and sons, but especially for his daughters–and he wouldn’t tolerate his daughters being subject to disrespect.)
Daddy: “MMMM I know those people over there and I heard….(and for all practical purposes it could possibly be over, according to what he had “heard,” whether they were able to actually come to the house to date my sisters).
You can just about imagine where this conversation was heading.
With all the questions of “Where do they go to church? Who’s the Daddy, Mama, cousins and etc.?” 🙂 To say that he was particular was an understatement. You can be assured that our parents had high expectations of us, and of the people we were around. I guess that is one of the reasons we were in church ALL THE TIME! They felt the responsibility to make sure that whoever God had planned for all of our lives would have all the necessary “background checks” in place. 🙂
Looking back, now that I am married and have two beautiful daughters, my husband and I both realize the importance of being involved with our girls’ lives in that area. We realize how important it is to come alongside them to help guide, give support and encouragement, and especially pray with them as they pursue the man of God for their lives.
A goodly heritage is so important.
If you have a goodly heritage, thank God for it. But if you are like many people and don’t have one, it’s not too late to begin building one now.
Build a goodly heritage for yourself and your family. Examine your lives in the areas of prayer, work, patriotism, and choosing the people you do life with. Then let the Lord lead you as you begin to instill these characteristics of a goodly heritage in your own life.
Did you have a goodly heritage? Or, do you want a goodly heritage? If so, what will you do today to implement that heritage in your life? Leave a comment below!