Friday, 22 July 2011

Leaving a legacy

Somehow I doubt our children will inherit many millions when my husband and I are no longer here – not that they have given up on the idea completely. There is always hope, they tell me, that one day one of my novels will become a best-seller and end up on the big screen!

On occasions, even I join in this game of ‘pretend’. I have been known to joke as I sign my name in one of my novels that one day, when I’m very famous, the owner of that novel will be able to auction it on ebay for millions! I can see the product description now: ‘Valuable first edition copy – personally signed by author’.

I have been thinking of legacies a lot lately, with the recent release of my fifth novel ‘Heléna’s Legacy’. This novel features Dr Susan Curtis, one of the minor characters in my second novel ‘All the Days of My Life’, and follows her reluctant journey towards God as she seeks to deal with various painful episodes in her life and tries to forgive. Heléna Hajek, the main character of my first two novels, becomes a key influence for good in Susan’s life – and the lives of others in Susan’s family – thereby leaving a legacy that is much more meaningful and lasting than any millions could ever be.

Now it’s a fact that I often write into my novels things I would want to say and do, if I were in the same situation as the one my character is facing. So it’s no surprise that, just like Heléna, I desire to leave something of value behind me in this world besides any millions I might or might not have. And I am so grateful for the ways God has given me to do this at this stage of my life.

Firstly, I hope and pray my novels truly touch readers’ hearts and bring them closer to God in some way. How privileged we are as Christian authors to have the opportunity to do this! But even more amazingly, we can also know that when we are no longer here, our books will remain and hopefully be read for years to come.

Secondly, I hope and pray that through the various speaking opportunities that open up for me, often because of the fact I am an author, those who hear me will be impacted by God and will receive fresh insights and understandings from God’s Spirit. Again, what a privilege to be used to leave a legacy in the lives of others in this way!

And thirdly, having walked the Christian journey now for many years, I love to impact women’s lives directly too through mentoring, either face to face or via email, passing on the lessons God has taught and continues to teach me.

God has given us all a legacy to leave behind, whether we are authors or not. What will yours be?

Jo-Anne Berthelsen grew up in Brisbane and holds an Arts degree from Queensland University.  She has also studied Education and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher and editor, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne loves communicating through both the written and spoken word and currently has five novels published by Ark House – ‘Heléna’, ‘All the Days of My Life’, ‘Laura’, ‘Jenna’ and ‘Heléna’s Legacy’. She is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and two grandchildren. To find out more about Jo-Anne, please visit her website,


  1. Thank you for the reminder to consider carefully the legacy we leave behind, Jo-Anne. As a writer we are able to leave something in print, even if it is only discovered dusty and forgotten years later, but today I am considering the legacy I leave in my children and the balance of priorities I live by therefore. Thanks.

  2. A great reminder of why we write, Jo-Anne. We never know how our words will impact others, but our legacy is also what we leave behind in our children. Your speaking does impact others, too, in many ways. Thanks for being you.

  3. Thanks Jo-Anne. It's a great idea to remind ourselves about legacies whenever we're feeling a bit discouraged, because one of the best things about them is that we have no idea what the future may hold. You can't help remembering, having a book with "legacy" in its title.

  4. Jo-Anne, I too have thought a lot about legacies since my Dad passed away in February this year. He and I were very much alike, and I have a son who has a very simular nature to us both. It got me thinking about heritage and traits that are passed down. In the same way I believe that blessings are passed through generation to generation. I want my life to echo the blessings my father left me, so that my son inherits the same favour the Lord has shown to me. Thank you for reminding me of this.

  5. I loved Helena's Legacy and I also love the idea of really thinking about the legacy we leave behind. It's so important with the world changing so fast and younger people having so little idea of what life was like a generation or so before them. There's so much they need to learn from those who have gone before. Well done Jo-Anne

  6. Love this Jo-Anne. The legacy we leave is a choice - why not make it an amazing legacy. x

  7. Love the post. I know when mum dies there will not be much of an inheritance but she and dad who died when I was 11 will have left a legacy all the same there example in the way they lived there Christian example are a great legacy to be left.

  8. Thanks Jo-Anne, for the wonderful reminder of leaving a legacy. I am always mindful of the legacy my own parents have already passed on to me. Although they are still with us, the spiritual legacy entrusted to us and our children cannot be matched by any other inheritance.
    Dotti :)

  9. Jo-Anne, thanks for your challenging and insightful post, and reminding us about the importance of leaving a lasting legacy for future generations :)

  10. A lovely reminder, Jo-Anne.
    As I have an unmarried son and no grandchildren I can still trust that my writing is my legacy to leave to my readers. And that is a real encouragement to continue writing.