The next pillar that’s so important to leaving a legacy is your FAITH. For some, this might be a sticky topic, and maybe you are thinking, how on earth can I equate having a personal faith with empire building? But stick with me here. I personally have a great heritage of faith in my family history, which I’ll get to in a minute – but even if you have never stepped foot inside a house of worship, you are leaving a legacy of faith for your family. Sticky topic, indeed. Let’s dive in:
Here’s what I believe: I believe that even if you say you are an atheist or agnostic, you are leaving a faith heritage for others to remember. It will most likely be a “no faith” heritage, but it will stick, nonetheless. Yes, I do believe that having faith or not is a very personal matter, but I also have experience with a very personal God who meets you where you are. So, yes – I’m a God girl, a Jesus follower – but I’m not like the so-called Christians in the political news who give us a very bad name. In my faith world, all are welcome. All are accepted for who they are, and everyone is responsible for their own relationship with God. I am blessed to attend a multi-ethnic, intergenerational church here in southern California – it’s important to us to do life with those who don’t look like us, think like us, eat like us, love like us and vote like us.
That doesn’t mean I won’t talk about God, or share my stories of miracles or times when He showed up for me, and for others. I believe that sharing our stories encourages others, and helps to build that faith empire. Have you ever been to a memorial service for someone who had great faith?
No one says, “we really don’t know what she stood for.” No, they say things like, “her great faith was an inspiration to all who knew her,” or “ She loved others just like Jesus would,” or “she worked tirelessly to serve others and help them in their distress..” Great faith is a heritage, a legacy, an empire, if you will – and that’s where, for me, my mother comes in…
My mom was the backbone of our family. By the time I came along, she was 40 years old and had been through the hardest of her years in terms of building her career as a lady preacher. In the early years, I believe she shared the pulpit more with my dad, but by the time I was 7, she was the full time pastor of a church, and she didn’t retire for about another 30 years after that. When I think of my mom, the words faith, heritage, and legacy come to mind, for sure. My mom was confident in her faith. She knew God and God knew her. You will definitely hear more stories about my mom in future episodes, but for now I want to bring you up to speed about what I mean when I say I have a strong faith heritage.
A few years ago I was visiting my sister – at the time she lived in a house on the beach in Massachusetts. It was springtime, but it was bitterly cold. All we wanted to do was stay warm. Then we got a message from our cousin Jan, who is the family genealogist…. And I’m not kidding about that. She has done so much research on our family heritage, that she’s published a 637 page book (available on Amazon) that outlines the family history on my mother’s side back several generations. It’s a big, bold, beautiful, and overwhelming book. But back to my story – Jan’s message said, “oh, you’re in Massachusetts together, how wonderful! You will, of course, be going to Nantucket, right?”
Our response was, “why would we do that?” We immediately called her and heard “well, your 9th great grandfather , Tristram Coffin, was one of the first settlers on the island. In fact, his daughter, your 8th great grandmother, was known as a great preacher on the island. Her name was Mary Coffin Starbuck, I’m sure you’ll see her name all over Nantucket.”
Bam! That’s all we needed. At about 3:00 the very next morning, we left the house for a 3 hour drive to catch the ferry to Nantucket, and spent the day exploring. And you know what? Jan was right! The names Coffin and Starbuck were everywhere… and even some mention of our grandmother in a display inside the whaling museum. But let’s go back to the part about her being a great preacher, and this idea of faith heritage…
Mary Coffin Starbuck who became known as “Great Mary of Nantucket,” and was a woman of great power and influence. She was consulted upon all matters of public importance, because her judgment was superior, and she was universally acknowledged to be a great woman. She is often compared to Deborah in the Bible’s Old Testament. She regularly held church meetings in her home and was instrumental in establishing the Quaker faith in that region.
Seven generations lie between Great Mary and my mother, and while I am not really sure how many other men and women of great faith are among them, that heritage definitely stood the test of time. And I do know the similarities between Mary and my mom are many. There was a heritage there. A lineage of purpose with an intentional faith that led to impact for generations. This is something I now carry with me – and every day I am asking how can I carry on that legacy, that heritage – and continue building this empire of faith in my family line?
Maybe you can’t trace back your family history of faith like I can. Well, I couldn’t either until a few years ago. Now. I’m astonished at God’s faithfulness in calling members of my family into a place of ministry. I’ve not had that type of a calling, but the question remains – how can I carry this on? And maybe you should ask this question, too? How can you and I carry on, or establish the foundation of a faith empire in our families?
Something to think about, for sure – and we will be hearing more stories in future episodes. Stories of this legacy of faith – how to establish it, and how to nurture it.
It’ll be so good.
Well, I think that’s all I have for today. We will introduce the final pillar of empire building next time – and that is finance. A big, big topic, for sure. I can’t wait to bring you the stories as this podcast grows.
See you next time…