The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines LEGACY as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor from the past.” To put it in more basic terms, a legacy is the content of one’s life left for others to carry after one is gone. Our legacy is our proverbial footprints on the sands of life, allowing others to follow our example and continue to propagate what was of value during our time on earth.
Hall of Fame basketball player Charles Barkley once famously declared, “I am not a role model.” His point was that it was not his responsibility to influence the direction of the lives of countless youth around the world. He rightly noted, that responsibility belonged to parents. I would, however, add my voice to the masses that argued that Sir Charles was being somewhat narrow in his understanding of influence. While it is the responsibility of parents to raise their children, they alone do not carry the burden of influence. Each of us has the potential to make an impact, negative or positive, in the lives of those who walk the road of life with us and behind us. Each of us carries the burden of influence through example. As we live our lives, each of us is building a legacy by which we will be remembered and which others will replicate.
As we live our lives, each of us is building a legacy by which we will be remembered and which others will replicate.
On Sunday morning, the community of Seymour, Indiana lost a legend. Coach Joe Goodman was an appropriately named man. He was indeed a “good man;” a man who lived his life for the good of his community and the glory of His God. Coach leaves behind an incredible legacy in the lives of his family, friends, and the many men and women in whom he invested his life.
Coach Goodman was the head football coach for the Seymour Owls football program from 1974 to 2003. As a competitor, Coach Goodman wanted to win games, but as a man of integrity and faith, he wanted to build men of character even more. He understood that the attitudes and actions demonstrated on the field have a way of manifesting themselves in daily life. Coach once told me that if all he did was teach young men to win football games, he would have been a failure. He wanted to build men who knew how to win at life.
Coach did indeed build a winning football program on the field. His record while coaching the Owls was 189 wins to 127 losses. He brought home sectional titles in 1991, 1997, 1999, and 2001, and took home regional titles in 1991 and 1999. Not only did he succeed in putting winning teams on the football field, he succeeded in putting men of character into the community of Seymour, Indiana. During this past football season, the Owls hosted “Coach Joe Goodman Night.” The highlight of the night came at halftime when 46 players joined Coach Goodman on the field to honor his achievements, the greatest of which was his impact on their lives. It was touching to watch the host of community leaders who one by one made their way to Coach to shake his hand, give him a hug, and thank him for his investment in their lives.
As news of Coach Goodman’s passing has made its way around Seymour, it has been incredible to watch the internet light up with tributes to this great man. Again, and again, Seymourians have noted who Coach Goodman was and what he meant to them. Here are a few examples… “He was a father figure to countless men who had no father, a friend to everyone in the community.” “He was a great man that had the unbelievable ability to get the most out of his players.” He “taught me how to be a man on and off the field.” Even though I have only lived in Seymour for a short time, I too can say that Coach Goodman had an impact on my life. His public, vocal support for my leadership at First Baptist Church has not only served to provide me with much needed credibility, but his encouragement and example has also inspired me to strive to be the best pastor and leader I can be.
We are, each of us, building a legacy.
We are, each of us, building a legacy. Every day we have hundreds of interactions with others. Each of these interactions constitutes an opportunity to make an impact. The words we say and the things we do, both great and small, accumulate in the hearts and minds of those with whom we interact. The substance of what is built is what will remain when we are gone, whether good, bad, or indifferent. I, for one, hope that when my days are done and those with whom I’ve interacted throughout my life begin recollecting who I was and what I accomplished, that I will have left a legacy of faithfulness. I hope that I will be remembered as a father to the fatherless, one who got the most out of those around me, one who built others up, and one who taught others how to be men and women of character. I hope that I leave a legacy like that of Coach Joe Goodman.