Right Opinion

The Legacy of Gene

Rebecca Hagelin · Aug. 22, 2019

A friend of mine passed away this weekend. Gene was a gentleman in his early 80s who lived life to the full.

Death comes to us all.

Every. Single. Person.

So it’s critical that we ponder our own approaching death from time to time and reflect on the meaning of life and how well we are living it.

Gene was a highly successful businessman who was driven to work hard and make deals.

None of those deals — no matter how amazing they were — matter now. Or do they?

I’ll always cherish the incredibly difficult privilege of holding my mother’s hand as she died. As I sponged her head and gently stroked her arms, as I kissed her cheeks and whispered words of encouragement, I desperately wanted to help her enter eternity, but I knew I could not.

As she slipped free from the cancer-ridden body that held her captive, she alone would face the presence of the Almighty to account for her life.

My mom loved to help those in need. In the years before she was struck with a severe mental illness that caused her to behave in untoward ways, she had dedicated her life to serving others.

As she began to drift away, I thought about how none of her efforts mattered anymore. Not the fundraisers for worthy causes or all of those volunteer hours she gave. None of it.

Or so I thought.

Actually, every moment of our lives counts. Yes, the only act that allows us to enter Heaven is the decision to give our hearts to Christ, accepting his generous offer to pay the penalty for our sins.

Faith in Christ alone provides the abundant grace of God that wipes out all of our sins and moral failings.

Remember the story of the thief on the cross who asked Jesus for mercy? The Savior replied in the midst of his own suffering, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The price Christ paid means that even if we have wasted our entire lives, his abundant grace is ours the moment we place our faith in him.

Scripture is also very clear that what we do with our lives matters. Whether we labor for pay or spend our days blessing others as moms or volunteers, our work matters.

Gene was a developer. Because he knew his work mattered, he did everything with excellence, which resulted in great success.

He freely shared his wealth with others, and his many financial contributions to charitable organizations will affect lives for years to come.

Every complex he built, every deal he made, every job he provided touched lives. Just as what you do affects lives too.

When I heard of Gene’s passing, I picked up my nightstand copy of Be Transformed: Essential Principles for Personal and Public Life.

I reread much of it and was reminded that it is God who created work, who gives us value, and who calls us to use our days to reflect His character.

Author and theologian Art Lindsley of the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics (www.tifwe.org ) provides a summary of the “theology of work.” Among the principles:

  • “Work is not a result of the fall.” Genesis is very clear that we are made in the image of God, which includes having the ability to create. We are called to create things out of the elements that God created. “God can create something out of nothing. We are to create something out of something,” Mr. Lindsley writes.

  • “We are called to glorify God in our work.” Colossians 3:23 instructs, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Whether our profession feels mundane or seems insignificant, what we do is so important to God that he commands us to perform it for Him.

  • Scripture teaches that even a government job can be a ministry. Imagine what would happen if every government worker performed his duties for the public as if he were serving God Almighty.

The most fulfilling work we can do is what we are “called” to do — what we are gifted to do. Praise God that America is still a place where people like Gene can freely use their talents in whatever vocation they choose.

Mr Lindsley writes, “Every person is created in the image of God, full of dignity, with unique talents and gifts to use for the glory of God in their work.”

Such is the legacy of my friend Gene.

Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at [email protected]

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