The City in Focus Newsletter - is a bi-monthly letter written by Thomas J. Cooper that offers insight into common personal, professional and family issues.
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Tom's October 2013 Newsletter
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Friday, 01 November 2013 09:04


Well, I knew it might happen. God willing, one of my kids would get married and have children. This September, Karen and I became grandparents.  His name is Austin and, of course, he is the most delightful, photogenic and brilliant child ever born!

I can confirm that the rumors of grand-parenting being wonderful are true.  Yet, in the midst of this joy I have begun to reflect.

Life can be framed in three main stages: growing up, building up, and letting up.  First we grow up and go to school and find either a lifetime partner or friends to journey with. The second stage of building up, we focus on our work and ambitions.  Here we hope to acquire a level of success and the sense of satisfaction of learning how to do something well in the world. The third stage is letting go. Increasingly aware of life’s brevity we wrestle and try to come to terms with the inevitable life changes we confront.

What can I do best for Austin and other grandchildren that might follow?  What will make the most lasting impression on their lives? I have often seen this legacy dilemma played out.

Let me first share what I think our legacy is not.  It is not your money or gifts.  It is not a laundry list of your accomplishments or worldly success. It is not how popular you were with the press, society or any other group. It is not your fiscal generosity that matters in itself, nor whether you were a leader in the local church or charity.

There is nothing intrinsically bad about any of the above – this just doesn’t pass my litmus test.  To frame it another way – what will help our grandchildren’s grandchildren be the kind of people they should be.

Jesus and Paul set the standard. Paul reminds us that the Spirit of God can bring certain qualities into our life:” love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” [Gal 5:22]. Jesus said to “love your neighbor as yourself” [Mark 12:31].

None of us can fully live up to these words. But when Austin is my age, I want him to think of me as someone who pursued these qualities and to have pursued these qualities himself with all his “heart, soul, strength, and mind.” [Luke 10:27].

Tom Cooper

Volume 23 Issue 5

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