“Tell me who your father is and I’ll tell you who you are.”
Every father leaves a legacy with his children-no exceptions. The only question is, what kind of legacy?
A few years ago , a team of New York state sociologists attempted to calculate the influence of a father’s life on his children and the following generations. In this study, they researched two men who lived at the same time in the 18th century. One was Max Jukes, the other Jonathan Edwards. The legacy that each of these men left their descendants stands as a study in contrast; they are as different as night and day.
Max Jukes was an unbeliever, a man of no principles. His wife also lived and died in unbelief. What kind of lasting influence did he leave his family? Among the 1,200 known descendants of Max Jukes were.
- 440 lives of outright debauchery
- 310 paupers and vagrants
- 190 public prostitutes
- 130 convicted criminals
- 100 alcoholics
- 60 habitual thieves
- 55 victims of impurity
- 7 murderers
Research shows that not a one of Jukes’ descendants made a significant contribution to society-not one! To the contrary, this notorious family collectively cost the state of New York $1,200,000. Not much of a legacy.
What about the family of Jonathan Edwards? Regarded as the most brilliant mind America ever produced, Edwards was a noted pastor and astute theologian. This renowned scholar was the instrument of God used to bring about the Great Awakening in colonial America. Later, he served as the president of Princeton College.
Jonathan Edwards came from a godly heritage and married Sarah, a woman of great faith. Together, they sought to leave an entirely different kind of legacy. Among his male descendants were:
- 300 clergymen, missionaries, or theological professors
- 120 college professors
- 110 lawyers
- Over 60 physicians
- Over 60 authors of good books
- 30 judges
- 14 presidents of universities
- Numerous giants in American industry
- 3 U.S. congressmen
- 1 vice-president of the United States
There is scarcely any great American industry that has not had one of Jonathan Edwards descendants as its chief promoter. Such is the lasting influence of one godly man. Now, that’s a legacy!
Excerpt from Leaving a Legacy by Steven J. Lawson