Fall in Colorado is quite the sight to behold. If the snow doesn’t beat the leaves to the punch, the trees transform from green to an array of calico colors. However, one tree in particular steals the show: the aspen. These trees paint entire mountainsides striking shades of yellow and gold, and people will drive for miles to see them. Aspen trees aren’t just pretty, though. They are a unique tree with profound characteristics that can teach us a lesson (if we’re willing to listen.)
We often get caught up in building wealth, a career, and a legacy for ourselves. These aren’t inherently bad things; however, it’s important to revisit and refresh our motives every once in a while. We can quickly make our wealth and our legacy about our own desires and comfort if we’re not careful. With the turning of a new season, I thought it would be fitting to learn from the aspen about how to leave a legacy for future generations.
How to Leave a Legacy
1. Embrace Unity
As individuals, aspen trees resemble thin, trembling sticks. (The most common species in Colorado is even called a quaking aspen!) However, aspen groves as a whole can amass hundreds of acres and cause quite a presence. This is partially because aspen trees share the same root system. So, even though you may see hundreds of different trees, they’re all considered the same organism. Every tree in a grove arose from the same seed, usually in the distant past.
So, what does this have to do with how to leave a legacy? Well, the first part is understanding that your legacy isn’t about being remembered as someone great–it’s about leaving something of value behind for the next generation. It’s about recognizing the deep ties you have to those who came before you, those who are with you now, and those who will come after you. Imagine if the Body of Christ actually operated as if it was the same organism. This is exactly what Paul charges us to do in 1 Corinthians 12:12: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”
Who is your legacy for? What do you want to leave behind, and what causes has God put on your heart to support with your resources? These are important questions to pray on as you consider your financial and spiritual journey.
2. Choose Resistance
Aspen trees are prevalent in areas where there are frequent fires, mudslides, and avalanches. Even when the trees are wiped out by natural disasters, their root systems remain intact. Consequently, aspen shoots are some of the first life to pop up in desolate circumstances.
New growth in an aspen grove is dependent on the perfect balance of disturbance and stability. This is because a stable environment would foster the growth of different tree species. The forest would get too crowded, and the baby aspens wouldn’t get enough sunlight. So, in a sense, the aspen trees prefer the next generation of trees over their own comfort and safety.
So, what does this have to do with how to leave a legacy? In order to grow, we have to choose resistance. Our age, history, or current situation doesn’t give us a pass to take the easy and comfortable route. As Christians, we are called to be a light in dark places. As we grow in status, privilege, and income, that often means we have to intentionally choose to enter dark places. We don’t do it for ourselves–we wouldn’t want to. Rather, we choose resistance because we want to fight for the next generation’s ability to have light, so to speak. That’s why the last lesson I want to highlight is selflessness.
3. Be Selfless
When you embrace unity and choose resistance for the sake of others, you become larger than life. Pando, the largest living organism ever reported, illustrates this well. Pando means “I spread,” and it’s the name of an aspen grove in the western corner of Colorado and south-central Utah. The grove is reportedly thousands of years old, covers about 107 acres, and weighs approximately 6,600 tons. As mentioned before, aspen trees share a root system and reproduce by cloning, so Pando is considered one huge organism. It is home to millions of organisms, and it provides stunning views for humans, too!
So, what does this have to do with how to leave a legacy? Even though Pando is old, the individual aspen trees are not. Many trees in the Pando grove have lived and died, thus making the way for more aspens. Similarly, the legacy we leave behind will grow to be bigger than us if we die to ourselves in order to pursue God’s will for our life and legacy.
Jesus put it like this: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24)
Now, hating your life can seem like harsh language, but this commentary in the English Standard Version Study Bible breaks it down:
“Here again Jesus speaks in absolute terms to emphasize a point: loves his life means “delights in this world more than God,” and hates his life in this world means, by contrast, “thinks so little of his life, and so much of God, that he is willing to sacrifice it all for God.”
In other words, ask God what he wants your legacy to be. What does He want you to grab ahold of, and where is He asking you to let go? I promise that God’s legacy for you is far greater than anything you can imagine on your own. [Read Genesis 15:5-6 for a story on how God did this for Abraham.]
I hope this blog post has encouraged you to consider God’s purpose for your life and legacy. At WealthBuilders, our goal is to give you the tools to build wealth so you can financially support the dreams God has put on your heart. If you want to find the legacy planning solution that’s best for you, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org