Building with Sacred Stones


“Therefore, when we build let us think that we build forever.  Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone.  Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think as we lay stone upon stone that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them and that men will say as they look upon the labor and the wrought substance of them, ‘See! this our fathers did for us.’”  John Ruskin

There we stood, admiring the amazing, awe-inspiring neo-gothic architecture surrounding us.  My son Benjamin and I were in Chicago for a little father/son getaway.  We were drawn into the Tribune Tower – iconic home of the Chicago Tribune Newspaper.  The quote from John Ruskin is etched into the floor of the magnificent entrance foyer.

What struck me the most about this moment was not necessarily the gorgeous architecture of this incredible structure, but the sentiments of Ruskin’s quote.  It caused me to ask myself a few questions:

What am I doing today that will be celebrated by my descendants?  Do I really live with a long-term vision, or am I merely living for today?  Is my life creating a benefit for future generations?  What are the “sacred stones” I am working with today that are laying the foundations of blessings for my descendants?

Really, these questions are all about legacy.  We will all leave a legacy.  What will your legacy be?  Will your legacy be one of benefit or detriment?  Will the seeds that you sow, the sacred stones with which you build, reap a harvest for the betterment of others, or your own benefit?

There are two kinds of people:  1. Those who will spend others for their own benefit, and 2. Those who will spend themselves for the benefit of others.  Ruskin is speaking to the second kind of person.  His sentiments ask us to examine the outcome of our efforts today in the perspective of generations to come.  What will the outcome of your leadership and your life be after you are gone from this world?   Will you leave a lasting legacy of benefit to future generations, or are you simply looking for your own personal benefit?

Are you leading in such a way that you may be gaining the world, but losing your heart in the midst of it?  The privilege of leadership obligates us to work for the benefit of others, and hopefully other generations.  There is an old adage that states, “You will reap what you sow.”  So, as a leader, what are you sowing?  Whatever you do today will leave a legacy.  We want to ensure that the legacy we leave will be celebrated.

So, what are some sacred stones with which we can build for the benefit of generations to come?  Justice.  Compassion.  Integrity.  Mercy.  Grace.  Humility.  Wisdom.  Generosity.  Love.  Faith.  Hope.  Sacrifice.  Commitment.   Courage.  Character.  Empathy.  Excellence.  Selflessness.  These stones have long term value.  As we build our lives with these sacred stones there is benefit for generations to come.  We do not want to build our lives with things that have no long term  value.

Let us ensure that we are building our lives, and therefore our legacy, with sacred stones that will benefit generations to come.   Do not just build for present delight nor for present use alone.  Let the work of our lives be such that our descendants will thank us, and let us know that as we lay sacred stone upon sacred stone that a time will come when men will celebrate as they look upon our labor.

Build with sacred stones – stones of long term value for the benefit of those who will take the baton from you and continue to run the race that you have started.  Build so those who come after you can stand on your shoulders and see further, for far greater good and impact that you may have been able to see.  Lead and live with a long-term perspective to see the work of your life celebrated by those who come after you.

“See, this our fathers did for us!”

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Leading and Living on Purpose.