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Sep 03

Writing Your Autobiography

Posted by: Steve Marr

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Most of us want to leave a good legacy behind. Demonstrating the power of Christ in your life is the best legacy we can leave. In addition, we may have other stories and accomplishments others may find interesting that we should pass on.

A few years ago I stumbled on some notes my uncle had written regarding my grandfather. I found an interesting story that occurred in 1910 when he left a small farming town in Aylmer, Ontario, to take a bank manager's job in Calgary.  In 1910, Calgary was still a part of what we would call the Wild West. My uncle’s notes told how my grandfather would sleep in the bank office with a .38 caliber pistol under his pillow to make sure nobody broke in to rob the safe. Years later after he moved to Detroit, he used the same pistol when he collected rent in a real estate business. 


Another interesting story occurred in the 1940’s. He was in the real estate development business and took over a small weekly paper when the owner was unable to pay an outstanding loan. Over several years he tried to turn the publication around but had little success. Eventually he sold the paper to a competitor. Instead of receiving cash, he negotiated a tremendous amount of free advertising in the local daily paper as well as the weekly paper. He had “free” advertising for his real estate business for the next 15 years. He received more value from the advertising that he would have obtained from a cash sale.

We all have interesting stories. In my career in international trade I had a customer go bankrupt who owed us about $50,000. However, we had a warehouse full of their unsold lawn chairs. I took some boxes home and started selling them to friends and acquaintances because they were a pretty good deal. Initially I got about $500 and credited it to the customer’s account. After a while other employees did the same thing. It became a regular sideline business. While it took some time, we were able to sell enough chairs to pay the debt in full, removing the obligation from our customer’s ledger and keeping their company from eating a large loss. Additionally, I have a page of notes of how we tried to sell everything from hovercrafts to Waterford Crystal in an effort to limit loss on a bad debt.

I could relate additional stories that I have collected, but I won’t. My suggestion is to start making notes using your iPhone, iPad or in a notebook. Place these notes in a larger file in about six months, and you have more material than you know what to do with. Then you can start writing them in a more organized way.  You don’t need to be polished, just get the information down.

Our memories may never become a bestseller, but they comprise a key part of our legacy. Include a story about your encounter with Christ and how the Lord has molded and shaped your life and improved the decisions you made. An effective Christian testimony is sharing what life was before Christ, how a person encountered and accepted the Lord, and how the changes that following Christ have impacted their future. 

All of us have a legacy to share.  Writing it down preserves it.  King Solomon wrote, “Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren.” (Proverbs 13:22, NLT) Give some thought to collecting and organizing your notes to put together your story. You may not have slept in bank with a gun under your pillow over 100 years ago but you do have a story to share. Find a way to preserve it.

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