"A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children," Proverbs 13:22 (NKJV)
President George H.W.Bush passed away on November 30th. The very public funeral in Washington, DC was attended by thousands and watched around the world. The funeral was so moving, and the reason? Because George H.W. Bush was an extraordinary man. Yes, he was a diplomat and a politician, but that isn't what made him extraordinary. The way he lived his life and the legacy he left gave him the extraordinary factor.
Bush's life was marked by his love for God. Faith was integral in every part of his life and people noticed. He didn't talk publicly very often about his faith, but how he lived was deeply connected to what he believed. The inner life gave way to the outer life. And what were the comments made about George H.W.Bush? As I watched interviews, the funeral and snippets played from Bush's speeches through the years, I took note of 10 qualities that describe this extraordinary man.
1) Faithfulness~ George was married to Barbara for 73 years. In one of the interviews I watched, it was mentioned that George was the only man Barbara had ever kissed. George had eyes for only his bride. This was a foundation that their strong family was built upon. What an inheritance to pass along to the next generations.
2) Family first~ George was a family man. As George W. Bush remarked at the eulogy of his father, "I learned what it meant to be a husband and a father from my dad". He spoke of his father as loving the children unconditionally; that he encouraged and comforted through the years without steering them one way or another. His grandchildren were all involved in his funeral and spoke so highly of their grandfather. They knew him well.
3) Integrity~ He was the same in private as he was in public. What you saw was who he was. He was authentic all the time.
4) Friendship~ He made friends with everyone. He looked at individuals and cared about them. It is said that he sent hand written notes to people weekly. George knew what it was to stop for the one. He didn't let the busyness of the day take his time away from talking to people. He was present. He knew people's names. It was important for him to connect with people, and this meant remembering their names.
5) Kindness~ He made an impression on so many people. When Jim Baker gave his eulogy of President Bush, he said "George changed my life". The kindness, tenderness and gentleness that flowed from Bush had an impact.
6) Firm in Principle~ George could not be swayed into something that he thought was wrong. He knew what was right in his eyes and he was steadfast in it.
7) Courage~ Because he was firm in principle, he had courage to do things that were difficult. His life speaks of courage.
8) Honor~ He honored those around him, those with a reputation and those with no reputation. When Bill Clinton took office after he beat George H.W. Bush in the election of 1992, Bush had left Clinton a note of blessing as he took office.
9) Gentleman~ George lived by a set of principles that clearly demonstrated what a gentleman he was. Honor, courage, integrity, principles and faithfulness are qualities to be celebrated!
10) Purpose~ When George Bush was 19, his fighter plane was shot down. The men with him did not survive the ejection from the plane and fall into the ocean. George was the sole survivor. His life was marked by the question, "Why was I spared?" And this set his purpose~ to live well and to make life better for others. This was his vision all his life.
I was so deeply affected by the funeral of this extraordinary man. With so much in our culture that is opposite of what marked his life, I feel called to a higher place for my own life. No matter what you feel about his politics or presidential office, his life speaks to something greater.
What are the qualities that mark your life? What legacy are you leaving to your children's children?
President Bush left a legacy and an inheritance to his children's children. He lived Proverbs 13:22, "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children".