Leaving a Lasting Legacy

Does promise and potential guarantee a lasting legacy? I am a huge sports fan. In the sports world, there are certain athletes that come to mind whenever the topic of wasted potential comes up. These individuals had stellar college careers, show great promise and potential to succeed, but fall short and leave the wrong type of legacy. One tragic example that comes to mind is that of Len Bias.

Len Bias was considered one of the greatest college basketball players of the modern era. He was named Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the year in 1985 and 1986. Whenever a discussion is started about the greatest players ever to play at the University of Maryland and in the Atlantic Coast Conference, his name always comes up. He was the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics, a team that had just won the NBA championship. Three days after being drafted, Len spent a night partying with friends and snorting cocaine in his University of Maryland dorm room. The cocaine caused him to go into cardiac arrest and he died shortly afterwards. The Len Bias story teaches us that promise and potential does NOT guarantee a lasting legacy.

The founders of The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity have left us a lasting legacy. As we celebrate One Hundred Years of existence and excellence, the question becomes how do we leave a lasting legacy? I believe that there are three key elements that we must have to accomplish this.

The first element that is necessary for a lasting legacy is the Right Connection. The right connection is a connection with God. Our founders were deeply religious men who had a strong connection with God. Bishop Edgar A Love was a Methodist Bishop who presided over four churches during his career. It is that strong connection that allowed our founders to leave behind the legacy of this great fraternity. Proverbs 3:5 instructs us to “trust in the Lord with all of our hearts, lean not on our own understanding, in all of our ways to acknowledge Him and he shall direct our paths.” When we allow God to direct our paths we are sure to leave a lasting legacy. If we fail to connect ourselves with God, we are guaranteed to come short of our promise, purpose, and potential. The most critical step in connecting with God is accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The next step is to develop a consistent prayer life and have a regular fellowship with a local church.

The second element needed is The Right Company. To bring this point home I will quote to a famous person named Gwendolyn C Twiggs: “Birds of a Feather Flock together!” As I grew older, I was saddened to discover that my mother was not the original author of this profound statement. I also discovered that this statement is true, and that understanding it is critical for success in life. We must be careful to surround ourselves with individuals that have the results in their lives that we want. Proverbs 13:20 teaches us the following: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” The right company will hold us accountable to staying on the right path. The right company doesn’t always tell us what we want to hear, but they will tell us what we NEED to hear. The right company brings out the best in us. Our founders gave us an excellent example of this. Oscar James Cooper, Edgar A. Love, and Frank Coleman were known as the Three Musketeers when they were on Howard University’s campus. When you saw one, you were likely to see the other two. These three men, along with Professor Ernest Everett Just, were men of like ideals and like attainment. Our fraternity exists today as a result of our founders keeping the right company. It is possible that the Len bias story may have had a different ending if he had different company around him.

The Third and final element that is needed is the Right Commitment. The commitment that I am referring to is a commitment to service. We have a lot of brothers who are standing on the sidelines. Lasting legacies are never birthed on the sidelines. Lasting legacies are birthed in service when we roll up our sleeves and get to work. One of the familiar Hymns of the Baptist Church is “Standing on the Promises.” I am afraid that some of us get that confused with “Sitting on the Premises.” The ultimate model of a servant is Jesus Christ. The Bible declares that He sacrificed Himself and put the needs of humanity ahead of His own. The world is different today because of His service. The true measure of any servant is that their arena is different because of their presence. If we are an effective servant, our fraternity should be different because of our initiative. The committee’s we serve on should be different because of our input. Our churches should be different because of our impact. Our communities should be different because of our involvement. If the arenas we operate in are the exact same as before we got there, we need to question our commitment to service.

To summarize, if we plan on leaving a lasting legacy, we need the Right Connection, the Right Company, and the Right Commitment.