Your punctuation will be your legacy

If truthful when asked, most of us would say we would like to leave our mark on the world somehow. And, why not? Everyone wants to feel who they are and what they do was important enough to be celebrated and remembered. But who knew the mark we leave could be determined by the punctuation mark of our life?

While thoughts of fortune, fame, and notoriety come to mind, being remembered for superficial circumstances or the amount of wealth we amassed is not going to be a enough of a consideration to determine where we spend eternity. In fact, it’s not a factor at all.

In reading Good to Great in God’s Eyes by Chip Ingram, I was reminded of this with a simple illustration involving, of all things, punctuation.

Chip wrote:
“You can be a good Christian by obeying God and loving people, but if you haven’t poured your life into others, your life ends with a period. Great Christians end with a comma.”*

A period. That means it stops there. But a comma – that small, curved indication of a pause in a sentence – designates there is more to come. When you are dead and gone, what form of punctuation will your life have?

  • many commasWill it end in a period where everything you did dies with you?
  • Will it end with a comma where your legacy is picked up by someone you poured into (like Jesus did with the apostles)?
  • And I’ll add one more… will it end in a question mark where your legacy is seen as questionable or uncertain?

In God’s Kingdom, the most acceptable form of punctuation for which to live your life for the end result is the comma. Why? Because it leads to someone being able to finish your life’s sentence. It allows for someone to pick up where you started. The comma is a member of the punctuation family that leads to continuation rather than an abrupt end. Isn’t this what we are called to do?

Those who pour their faith, love, and time into others are actively seeking to develop, increase, and reproduce the same in others. With intentional effort, an inheritance is handed down. Once this happens, the law of multiplication can sweep through generations and you have continuous commas. When those whose lives end in a period pass, there is nothing that is passed on. It ends as abruptly as the last breath that person took.

So what will it be for you? Looking at your life as it is, will you end your life in an sudden stopping point or an unfinished sentence ready to be spoken through the next generation? Oddly enough, ending in a comma actually puts an exclamation point on one’s life!

– Trey Campbell,

*p. 202, Good to Great in God’s Eyes, by Chip Ingram; Baker Books, 2012


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