I was talking with friends recently about family heirlooms. Well, if I’ve got some heirlooms, I don’t know it! My family was never really “well to do”. When I was younger, we had a small three-room house. I remember when we put in our first indoor toilet. What a glorious event when I got to see the very first flush! Some years later, when we installed a tub with a shower, I thought we had arrived for sure! Thank God we no longer had to use the old #2 tin tub in the back yard. As I grew up, we eventually added onto the house and had a little more room. We even started wearing clothes that were ALL bought right from the store, just like everyone else…imagine that!! But valuable family heirlooms? Nah!
Well, I got older, got a job, bought a car, and had some nice things. I also kinda got out in the world, so to speak. In other words, I was living like the devil! My actions and lifestyle got me an audience with my daddy that I won’t ever forget. He told me that there are few things in life which are truly valuable, but one of them is your name. Your name is associated with your actions, lifestyle, character, honesty, trustworthiness, etc. You may not start out with the best name in town, but you and you alone have the ability to change that and add value to your name. At that time in my life, I didn’t care what others thought of me, but as I got older I started to see things a little differently. I found out that a “good name is rather to be chosen than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1). My daddy didn’t quote scripture, but he was smart enough to know this and teach it to me.
While my daddy didn’t have “stuff” to leave me as an heirloom to pass down for generations, he had a good name that he gave me and the good sense to teach it to my children as well. In a sense, I had no birthright because my father had no material possessions for me to inherit. But he did give me a blessing when he taught me that every one of us has an opportunity to add value to our name. And not only do we have a chance to add value to our surnames, but we can add value to the name Christian, which means Christ-like. It is sobering to know that others look at me and see all Christians through the filter I provide. You want to leave your family a great blessing? One of the best ways, one worth more than great riches, is to leave them with a good name and to teach them how to add value to that name daily through their actions and character.
~Bev Vaughn, guest columnist