What determines a person’s destiny, and ultimately their legacy?

Mark Batterson, Pastor of the National Community Church in Washington, D.C. and author of The Circle Maker wrote, “Destiny is not a mystery. For better or worse, your destiny is the result of your daily decisions and defining decisions. Those daily decisions add up…We only make a few defining decisions in life, and then we spend the rest of our lives managing them. ”

I was reminded of Batterson’s words this morning as I watched a news article about Thomas Kinkade. The famous “Painter of Light” died April 4, 2012 at age 54. An autopsy determined that he died of an accidental overdose of alcohol and Valium.  A battle now rages between his mistress and his estranged wife over his estate, estimated at over $60-million. The reporter asked, “Is this his legacy?”

A legacy is more than the financial assets we leave behind. A legacy is the ripple-effect of the decisions we make in our lifetime that impact our family and the rest of the world.

Part of the legacy I will leave for my children and grandchildren is the result of the decision I made in 1972 to abstain from alcohol as the result of my commitment to Christ. I made a lot of poor decisions regarding alcohol and other drugs in my youth. My parents modeled responsible drinking; I had no indication that alcohol would be a problem for me. Taking my first drink of alcohol on the night of my high school graduation was a defining decision – I became an alcoholic during my college years.

Alcohol impairs the frontal lobe of the brain, home to our decision-making. My decision to abuse alcohol led to numerous consequences as the result of impaired judgment: expulsion from college, date rape, and an unplanned pregnancy at age 19. Later, my husband Jon’s and my substance abuse was the main source of conflict in our marriage. When we accepted Christ, we decided that alcohol would no longer be a part of our lives. That was one of the best decisions we ever made.

Both of Jon’s parents were alcoholics; they found recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous when Jon was in high school. At his dad’s funeral, several men told Jon, “Your father was my AA sponsor; I owe him my life.” What a legacy.

I understand that as Christians we have freedom from the laws that say, “Don’t eat this or drink that.” I get it. I also know I am not objective when it comes to alcohol. I worked as a Certified Addictions Counselor for 12 years. I saw doctors, nurses, lawyers, judges, university professors, and Christians whose lives were in shambles because somewhere along the line they made the decision to drink alcohol.

Not everyone who drinks becomes alcoholic, but alcohol is potentially addicting to anyone who picks up the first drink. In the general population, 1-in-10 people who drink will become alcoholic. If a person has an alcoholic in their family, they have a 3-4 times greater risk of becoming addicted. I presented high school assemblies on the risks associated with alcohol; I asked, “Would you hold a gun to your head and pull the trigger if you knew you had a 1-in-10 chance of getting the bullet? How about if you had 3 or 4 chances out of 10?” Drinking is like playing Russian roulette with addiction. We cannot predict who will get the “bullet.”

Thomas Kinkade never planned to tarnish his legacy or break the hearts of his wife and children, but an everyday decision – to drink alcohol – became a defining decision. While the world is richer for his “Paintings of Light,” his family is left with a painful legacy that they will spend the rest of their lives sorting out.

No matter what your risk factors are, alcoholism is completely preventable – just make a decision to not drink or to quit drinking. I have never known anyone to regret it.

Your destiny, and ultimately, your legacy, may depend on the decisions you make today regarding alcohol.

Please choose wisely.










  1. Kathy
    Aug 21, 2012

    I couldn’t agree more! I have horrible memories of my abusive alcoholic father. Although I thank the Lord for taking me through those tough times, it has made my decision to be 100% free of any type of alcohol. I have never taken a first drink. For I have seen the devastation it leaves in its wake. Thank you, Kathy for posting your opinion.

  2. Jill
    Aug 21, 2012

    Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossiper, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, Zaccheus was short, Abraham was old, and Lazarus was dead…. Thomas had an affair and got drunk. I kind of wish I never knew this about Thomas K., because I have always admired his work. I guess it just reminds me that we are all human, detrimentally flawed and our only hope for complete restoration is Christ, can’t put anyone else on that pedistole, no matter how much in “awe” we are of their work.

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