The Only Legacy That Really Matters

2016 is a banner year for me – it is the year I technically become a senior citizen – at least in the eyes of the government. I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed the “senior discounts” for quite some time at movie theaters and other venues – but I still cringe when I ask for it. Putting my vanity issue aside, I have begun to think about what it means to reach this milestone. I have been asking myself, “Does wisdom really come with age? Do I deserve more respect as my hair thins and turns gray? How should my priorities change – if at all? And of course – is it appropriate for me to buy slim-style jeans?

But the most important question I’m asking is, “What is the legacy that I’m leaving?” It’s funny, I never really thought about that question when I was in my 30s or 40s – but sometime around my late 50s I started to think about it. Now I’m wondering why it took me so long. I think that if I had asked that question earlier I would have made some major adjustments in my portfolios when it was easier and when it might have made a bigger difference.

You are probably thinking that I’m speaking primarily about finances – that’s what most people think about when we talk portfolios and legacies. But actually I’ve come to realize that there are many portfolios that make up our legacy – and financial is not the one that makes the biggest difference.

It is my spiritual portfolio that makes the biggest difference in my legacy. It drives all the rest – financial, family and social.

If we look at our legacy as the inheritance we leave to our family, friends, colleagues and business associates then it’s put in the right light. Our legacy not just what we leave behind but what others inherit from it.

The Bible has a lot to say about inheritance – some about property and possessions but a lot about eternal inheritance. When we look at the heart of all of them we see that they are built upon Jesus’ legacy to us. So ours should be built upon God’s foundations – not our own.

If I place a high priority on being a servant to others, then those people I serve inherit my legacy of kindness and helpfulness. Alternatively, if I am selfish with my time, money and devotions then others will inherit my legacy of self-centeredness and narcissism.

And what makes this so important is that what we inherit many times determines how we develop our own legacy. That alone gives us a good reason to prioritize the foundations of what we leave behind.

2016 is not just a milestone for me – it can be one for all of us. You don’t have to be turning 65 to rethink the priorities of your spiritual portfolio. In fact, do yourself, family, friends and business associates a favor – do it now. Start this year with a reassessment of your portfolios that will make up your legacy – one that will have an eternal difference for all who inherit the gifts you have been given according the the only legacy that really matters.


That question is the title of chapter 12 in a  book recently co-authored by a good friend who is also a good friend of Convene.  He has recently turned 40 years of age.  I am 75 years of age—nearly twice his age—but his question resonates with me and his book has caused me to  reflect on the value of thoughtful/prayerful career planning—which I did not do properly .  In fact I have found the book to be useful as a self-diagnostic  tool but the authors do not offer a “time reversal” process to aid we older readers. At 75 I am blessed with reasonable health, a beautiful wife in our  54th  year of   marriage, a  precious family, chair responsibility for two Convene Teams and a very active corporate life.  When I consider that question each day—my response is “Thank You Lord for Keeping Me in the Game!”    “But why didn’t I do this sooner?”

The joy and opportunity I gain from our Convene Teams far surpasses  the joy and blessing I received from earlier duties  as CEO,  Chairman, Professor,  or corporate officer roles.  Building into the lives of other leaders brings  greater satisfaction than building the financial balance sheet.  Both building activities are essential and valuable— I guess it is age that allows a better appreciation of the relative value of building human capital compared to building industrial/financial capital.

Solomon raises this same question in   Ecclesiastes 1:3-- What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?

I know the my co-author friends  answer –at his  age—is quite different, and that is what motivated him to write the book.  His writing appeals to all of us to carefully consider what God wants us to be doing next.  In careers where we practice leading and visioning—we must take time to consider or we may miss God’s better plan for us.  In fact Chapter 7 of the book is titled HOW DO YOU STOP AND REST BEFORE GOD STOPS YOU?

The authors use Ecclesiastes as the framework for guiding the reader on this clarifying journey.

Do your self a favor—put this book on your reading list—40/40-Vision-Clarifying Your Mission in Midlife—Peter Greer and Greg Lafferty.

Don’t wait till your 75 to read it.

What’s Your Son’s Reputation?

Over the holidays, my 25 year old son was playing in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament with some other guys his age, as well as several men I know that are a bit older.  With two of my younger ones in tow, and with the event running late, it was time for us to leave.  As I said my goodbyes to the men I knew, all (yes…each and ever one) of them said some version of: “It was great to see you Michael.  You’re son, though…he is staying, right?” Certainly, he has an established reputation as a much better athlete (and plenty of other good traits) - and I don’t blame them at all for wanting him to stay.  I’d have asked the same thing.

It did get me thinking - when do people want me to stay?  What are the things they want me around for?  When do they not want me around?  When would they prefer someone else?  Am I ok with the answers?

Maybe those are good questions for us all.  As I reflect on them, they give me a bit clearer focus for 2016.

P.S.  As a side note, if you feel you’d like to pursue a more intentional plan for having rites of passage for your son, drop me a line ( and I’ll send you a brief outline of what we did for our sons as they grew.  It might spark some ideas of your own.

An Advent Reflection

This Advent Season I’ve been studying the messages of the angel visitants to Zechariah, Mary, Joseph and Shepherds. It’s a fascinating study if you place the humans and surrounding circumstances a bit more in the background and focus on the messages alone. Of course, there is some nuance in each message because of who it is being proclaimed to, but the message is essentially this: God is rescuing his people, as had long been promised.

  • In the message to Zechariah, we learn this rescue will lead to repentance, reconciliation, and renewal of a covenanted relationship with God.
  • Mary learns the name of their child will be Jesus (Savior), that his real sonship will be of his Father in heaven as well as of his ancestor King David, and that he will establish an eternal reign.
  • Joseph is also told to name the child Jesus, and another name is added: Immanuel (God with us). This child will save people, his people, from their sins.
  • The Shepherds are told the Messiah is born and where to find him. Even more, they are told this the glorious action of God and that it brings peace to anyone who receives the Lord’s favor.

These messages are very different than the commodified and individualized versions of the gospel that say “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for YOUR life.”  Instead, it is the message that finds its glorious fulfillment in Revelation 5, where all creatures in the universe proclaim the inexhaustible worth of Immanuel, because he prepared a people for God who will be God’s priests and who will reign with God. They are a people whose chief identity is in the reign of God rather than in their tribe, people, language or nation. We might add that their identity is also not nested in a brand, product, service, division or professional credential.

Greg Leith, the Convene CEO, sometimes invites executive leaders to think five million years into the future. If they were planning that far in advance, how would it affect their planning for their enterprises and the lives of their families?  We shouldn’t think it a strange question. Disney seems to have been doing so all along as they are reputed to lock up intellectual property rights for all planets and multi-dimensional universes when a story is sold to them.


  • What if the end game is not just business succession, but that heavenly throne room of praise?
  • What if your professional vocation is not about you but about the people God is preparing?
  • What if the justification of your profit margin is the glory given to  God in heaven and the peace that it brings to earth?
  • What if you are not the owner of you company, but just a steward for the real Owner?
  • What if the starting place for all our plans is repentance, reconciliation and a renewed covenant of faith with the God who made us, sustains us and is preparing a place for us?

Food for thought, prayerful consideration, and faithful response.

Creating a “No Losers” Mindset in Your Marriage

One of the biggest causes of marital breakdowns … and in business relationships … is the inability to resolve conflict effectively; and every married couple runs into conflict because … Conflict is inevitable … two people who are in love … want each other to think and feel the same way about things … how to deal with money … how to deal with children … free time … and more!

The problem is … too many of us have come to believe that conflict is a bad thing … and that we should avoid it at all costs … but that’s not true … nor is it healthy for your marriage …

The truth is … conflict is a sign of connectedness … it says we have a vital relationship here … Remember – we rarely have conflicts with people we do not know or like.

But the most important thing we need to know about conflict is that it does not have to be negative!  When we learn how to successfully resolve conflicts with our spouse … we discover new things about him or her that we didn’t know before (which is why we’re having the problem) … and that helps to deepen our intimacy.

To make conflict a productive force in our marriage we have to establish a “No Losers Policy.” 

If you are “one,” a house divided against itself can’t stand.  If you are a “team” … it is impossible for one member of a team to win while another member of that same team loses!  You either both win … or you both lose … but there should never be an “I win – You lose” mentality allowed your marriage!

You both “win” when you both feel good about and agree together on the solution to your problem.  Maybe one of you came up with the solution … that’s OK … as long as both of you willingly agree that it is the best solution … you have a win-win scenario!  What will break down any marriage is the “my way or the highway” mentality!