Building a Legacy Lessons from football and the Hall Of Fame

You know what?  I know what you're thinking.  You may not be a football fan. You may have no idea who any of the players are.  And if that's you, stick with me. There's good stuff coming your way.

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For those of you who don't know, I was born and raised in Chicago. My dad played football in high school (I think he was kind of a star on the team) and he grew up around Wrigley Field - the home of the Chicago Cubs. Needless to say, to be an Allen meant watching the Cubs in the summer and Sunday afternoons with Walter Payton and the Bears. It's just what we did. 

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So a not so little thing happened this week if you're a Bears fan. One of our own, an iconic Bear who only played for the Bears for his whole career, Brian Urlacher, was inducted into the inducted Hall of Fame this weekend. 

It's a big deal for us Chicagoans because Brian is a fave in our hearts when we think of the glory days of the Chicago Bears defensive legacy.  It's a big deal for Brian because this was the first round that he would be eligible and he's one of the youngest inductees.  

So, like never before, I kept my eyes on the festivities. I watched the Hall of Fame football game, and watched the interviews, and played the induction ceremony on Youtube. Each inductee gives a speech and Brian, who doesn't like to be up front and the one speaking, gave a killer speech. A speech filled with leadership and life lessons that you can take to the bank even if you're not into football. 

So if you're looking for leadership insights or even life lessons for your everyday life, I've got some thoughts for you. 

Do the work

As Brian started reminiscing over his career as a Bear, there was one theme that kept popping up. He didn't play to leave a legacy. He didn't play to be a big deal. He didn't even play to be a leader on the team. He played for the love of the game and to be a good team player. In short, he did the work right in front of him. 

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I've become fond of a saying in the last couple of years. It's do the next thing. Do the thing right in front of you. Be faithful where God has you today so that He can use what's next. And what I learn from Brian is that you don't leave a legacy by trying to leave a legacy every day. You leave a legacy by being faithful to where you are and doing the next thing with your best effort. 

Focus on your people

Brian is a humble guy and said one thing that stood with me. The accolades. And good press meant nothing to him. What mattered to him was that he was known as a good team player. He said his job was to make sure the other guys on the team looked good and played great football. 

You and I? We can distracted with position and significance and looking successful. Whether you were looking for that promotion at church, or waiting for your family to acknowledge your genius and brilliance, or starting a new ministry or business, we can get distracted with the leading part and forget about our people. The people who are in our lives. The people who see us at our best and at our worst. 

Jennie Allen once said something I'll never forget. Are you ready? Your greatest impact and ministry will be with those who are already sitting across the table from you. Your family. Your friends. Your coworkers. Your neighbors. 

You and I can be faithful when we focus on being present with our people. When we make them a priority. When we keep growing and learning in community. 

Embrace your story

Your story matters. The people you've learned from. The places you've been. The success you've experienced. And those moments that looked like failure. All part of your story. 

During his speech, Brian took time to acknowledge his story. He started with his family. His mom and step-dad, his siblings, his friends. He then moved on to coaches who are still a living example to him and the guys on his team. He knew that he didn't get to the Hall of Fame alone. They were all part of the journey. 

You and I have similar stories. We have people who have been faithful in the beginning parts of our story. Parents and family. Teachers and coaches. Those who led us to Jesus. And those who poured into our lives to help us keep growing and developing. There are bosses that took a chance on us and taught us everything they know and coworkers who made it fun in the process. 

If you haven't done this before, it's a great time to start. Life map your story. You can draw a map or make a list and identify these things...

  • What are the highs and lows over your journey? 
  • What were your big dreams and goals over your journey? 
  • Where have you noticed God working in your life? 
  • Who were your people at each stage? 

If you're anything like me, you may want to make this a task to check off and get done in 30 minutes or so. Don't do that. Take your time. Let it simmer. Allow yourself the space to map your journey and embrace your story. And when you finish, be intentional about encouraging and acknowledging those who are a part of your story and where you are today. 

So how do we put it all into practice? You and I can build a legacy by being faithful right where we are. In the places God has put us in. Even when it's not the place we would have chosen or when we know it's not our final destination. We can be faithful to build a legacy today. By doing what's right in front of us. By being faithful even when we can't always see the results. By investing and prioritizing our people. And in the end, embracing the story that God is writing with your life and legacy. 

I'd love to hear from you!  What are you learning lately and how are you putting it into practice?