How can one leave a legacy of love after this lifetime is finished?
That’s the question Dr. James Dobson asked students gathered in the Vines Center for Liberty University’s Convocation on Monday morning.
Dobson, the world-renowned psychologist, founder of Focus on the Family, and current host of Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk radio show, partnered with Liberty late last year to launch the James C. Dobson Center for Child Development, Marriage, & Family Studies.
He was introduced by Dr. Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and professor of counseling and pastoral care in Liberty’s Department of Counselor Education and Family Studies.
Clinton noted that “Family Talk” is heard on more than 1,300 stations around the world, and that Dobson holds 18 honorary doctorate degrees, has more than 5 million followers on social media, and has published more than 30 books, including his latest, “Your Legacy: The Greatest Gift,” which he signed for students after Convocation.
But, according to Dobson, those achievements won’t get him into Heaven. Dobson said he was asked to deliver a message similar to his keynote address at Liberty’s Commencement in 1993, stressing to students what matters most in this life.
His message on Monday resonated with listeners today as much as it did 23 years ago, valuing family ties over career goals or monetary gain.
“If you live long enough, life will trash your trophies,” he said. “Whatever your accomplishments are, whatever you think of as the most important thing you’ve done, sooner or later, it won’t matter.”
He challenged students to take what he calls the “end-of-life test” to assess their priorities.
“Project yourself to the end of your life, which will come one of these days,” he said. “When you’re there and you’re looking back, what will matter to you then?”
He said that more than plaques on the wall, degrees earned, buildings that bear one’s name, books written, or money made, how much a person loved and was loved, and how much he or she advanced the Kingdom of God will be what counts for eternity.
“Those (other) things won’t matter that much to you then, because that’s in the past,” Dobson said. “What will matter most in that moment is who you loved, who loved you, and what you did together in the service of the Lord. There’s nothing else that will stand the test of time.”
Dobson recalled the only personal interaction he had with Pete Maravich, one of the greatest college and professional basketball players. Moments after playing a friendly pick-up game with him early in 1988, Maravich died of a heart attack at the age of 40. Maravich had been scheduled to do a radio interview with Dobson that day.
Dobson was shaken by the incident, but was relieved that Maravich had become a Christian years after retiring from the game of basketball.
That night, after praying with Maravich’s family at the hospital, Dobson went home and had a heart-felt talk with his son, Ryan, who was 17 at the time.
“I told him, ‘What happened to Pete Maravich today was not an isolated tragedy,’” Dobson said. “‘This is the human condition. Sooner or later, somebody is going to tell you that I am gone. I want you to … be there on that grand resurrection morning. I will be looking all over Heaven for you. Be there, because that’s the one thing that matters, that you stay true to Christ and that you are found worthy to spend eternity with me and your mom and your other friends on that day.’”
After Dobson’s message, Darrell Pittman, a local leader of Gideons International, shared a testimony of how he gave his life to Jesus in a one-room cell after reading a copy of the Bible handed to him before he went to jail more than 20 years ago. Representatives of the Gideons — who have now distributed more than 2 billion Scriptures translated into nearly 100 languages around the world — passed out 5,000 pocket New Testaments as students entered and exited the Vines Center.