“If I throw away my shot, is this how you’ll remember me?
What if this bullet is my legacy?
Legacy! What is a legacy?
It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see
I wrote some notes at the beginning of a song someone will sing for me
America, you great unfinished symphony, you sent for me.”
Now I could go on and finish the next 6 minutes and 21 seconds of the 2 hour and 22-minute musical and many of you would join me however as entertaining as that would be this short passage from Hamilton has one word that we should focus on.
Legacy. What is a legacy?
All the definitions that I found of a legacy pertain to money or what you leave behind after you die. However it most commonly used as your reputation, how people will perceive you.
A legacy is how people will remember you through all three stages of your life. Beginning, Middle, and End.
Much similar to life Speech and Debate has a beginning a middle and an end. More importantly it has people, people who will shape your life in one way or another. I am proud to say some of my best friends have come from speech and debate. Whether they are you in the Omaha Knights, or other clubs around the nation Speech and Debate has connected us to all develop with one another and learn from each other. Iron sharpens Iron.
Since Speech and Debate is a competitive, it’s easy to lose sight of why we choose to do it. Why are you here? Is it because you want to win? Because you want to learn? Do you want to develop your skills? Foster friendships? Why are you here?
In Hamilton, Alexander’s main objective is to make a good name for himself. He is constantly pursuing his dream of becoming something great and in many ways he succeeded. However along the way he makes mistakes. He ignores his family, he slights his friends, creates enemies, and harms those around him.
The legacy he left behind varied from person to person. The question we are left with is, did his achievements cancel out his broken relationships?1. Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you. —Shannon Alder
One thing you will hear time and time again from alumni or varsity in Speech in Debate is that it doesn’t matter how many medals they win. That is not permanent. What they do discuss is the relationships they fostered. Names have gone down in infamy in all the leagues, many great debaters are remembered and recalled for one reason or another. The ones that are discussed the most, however often aren’t the ones constantly receive first place medals.
They are the ones who lightened a mood by telling a joke. Or sat with a novice right before they went into their first impromptu round. It’s the people who take you aside right before your debate when you’re positive you’re going throw up and they pray with you. It’s your friends who sit through your round to give you feedback and help you become the best debater or speaker you can be.
I often can’t recall the debate rounds where everything went smoothly. I do remember the rounds I had as a novice. When I stumbled over my words and had no idea where I was going with the sentence I was currently speaking, but my opponent showed me grace and lifted me up. The rounds I remember are usually the ones where my friendships begin. It’s the impression you leave on your judges, opponents, and competitors in the room that will live longer than your medals.2. The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith. —Billy Graham
The NCFCA mission statement is “To challenge and equip ambassadors for Christ to communicate truth with integrity and grace.”
The only way to leave a legacy that will outlast time is to do everything you can to worship Christ and show others His work. I have often struggled with the idea that I’m not competing to win. As a competitive person I enjoy achieving. And that is not bad, however why am I achieving?
If you find yourself growing overly competitive ask yourself why? For me, it’s usually because my focus isn’t on God.
It’s quite easy to get wrapped up in the resolutions, speeches, evidence, rounds and not realize that we are here to learn how to bring others to Christ. We make an impact on our judges and our opponents with how we carry ourselves and what we say to others. Sometimes a simple smile or a questionable glance can make or break a possible friendship. There are only seven seconds to make a first impression, so what do you want yours to be?
Next throughout the round, or the speech one good way to take your focus off of the competitive side is to pray. At TeenPact Nebraska the speaker challenged us to pray without ceasing, this includes within a debate round or right before a speech. During prep time take a moment to collect your thoughts and ask God for the right wording. While setting your timer inwardly pray that your speech would leave an impact on the judges and people watching.
Once your focus is on God your whole mindset of the tournament will change. You will see your opponents as friends and fellow Christians, you will see your judges, as people you have an impact on. Further you will notice that not advancing isn’t as dreadful as you thought it would be.
For the past few years I haven’t advanced at many tournaments. Each year I’d advance in debateonce at the first tournament in a season and never again. That discouraged me as I felt my debating just wasn’t up to par as where it should be. I entered this year with something to prove to myself. I wanted to do better than I ever had.
With the first tournament out of the year when I advanced, I was excited, but I knew I still had many tournaments to go. But when I didn’t continue advancing as far as I wanted to, I was prettydisappointed, and realized my focus had been on the competition rather than building my opponents up or praising God with my speech.
It was only when I focused on reaching my judge or giving God my attention that I did better than I ever have at the next National Open tournament.
The most important aspect of legacy starts now. With your beginning, it doesn’t have to be when you first started Speech and Debate it can be right now. Decide how you want everyone to view you. Whose approval do you seek and why? Then with the middle move into applying it. Focus on God throughout your time competing. Once you do, you will find that your mind will concentrate more on your friends, and your companions rather than yourself. Take the time to make an impact on the lives of other in your club, state, or region.
Then the End.
As Lin Manuel Miranda puts it in Hamilton: “It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”
You may never know the impact your legacy makes on others competing. Sometimes you find out a year after it happened, maybe three. Perhaps you know instantly but striving to leave a lasting impact on people’s lives is worth the wait.
The last quote I want to leave you with today, is: 3. “Leaving a legacy of faith means desiring to give someone your best but recognizing the best we can give is not of us. We make our greatest impact on others by living a life that points others to God.” Anonymous.
The reason Alexander Hamilton’s legacy was left in a way that was so unidentifiable was because he did most things for his own glory. As Christians we are called to live life for Jesus Christ so that people don’t see us, but they see God through us.
Speech and Debate is an amazing opportunity for this. Not only are we already leaving a different mindset for teenagers in our judges minds, but we also set an example for Christians within a competitive league.
How do you want people to remember you in Speech and Debate? Do you want them to see God through you? How will they see God through you?
It can be as simple as sitting through a novice’s first Impromptu, praying before someone goes into a round, or smiling at a judge with good will in your eyes.
All of these things can leave a legacy that plants seeds of God in a very fruitful garden.
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