Building Your Generous Family Legacy from One Generation to the Next
By Bill High
It was like a storybook ending. Chris was nearing the final days of his life. In these waning moments, he called it “studying for the final exam.” He knew his days were numbered, but he considered it a great gift. He wanted to finish well so he acted with intentionality.
He sold his business, slimmed down his life, and focused on his family and his friends, and particularly his family. As he gathered them, he carefully pointed out the biblical values on which he’d grounded his life. For Chris, a hallmark value was generosity.
Chris was deeply committed to giving a certain percentage of his income to God. In one instance, early in his career, he came to the end of the year and realized he was short on his commitment to the church. Short of cash, Chris went to the bank and actually borrowed the remaining amount to complete his giving to the church.
At Chris’ passing, there were children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren gathered around. They sang hymns, told stories, and reflected on the great memories they’d had with him. His passing was met with sadness, yet the legacy of generosity would continue.
Chris’ story illustrates a fundamental truth. We come to Christ as individuals, but we live out our faith in community, and our first community is our family. God has designed us to grasp values like generosity and to teach them to our children. Bible passages like Deuteronomy 6:6-7 teach us this. “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Most of us accept the notion that we need to teach the Scriptures diligently to our children. But Chris recognized something more. This responsibility extended beyond his children. The duty was generational.
Some need to make a paradigm shift to grasp this. God doesn’t design anything for chaos. He didn’t create the planet so it could spin out of control and crash into the sun. There’s order, a rhythm to creation. The same is true with families.
God wants families to follow His design for generations. Numerous biblical passages point to this. For example, God’s promise to Abraham was not only to him but to his descendants as well (see Genesis 12:1-9). God saw from Abraham to the next Adam. The Scriptures are careful to record the lineages that make these connections. The books of Matthew and Luke open with them.
God made Abraham into a people. Their rich heritage emerges in their stories — the promise of land, the promise of an heir, the sacrifice of Isaac averted, the slavery of Joseph, the deliverance of Moses. God’s design included a covenant — a code, a way of living that differentiated them from other nations — which included certain rites and rituals to be handed down over the generations.
A key part of this spiritual inheritance instructed God’s people to handle money in a manner that would help them continue to grow, prosper, and honor the Lord their God. Passing on this paradigm where faith is central to living, rather than finances, is the big idea of what God designed for true generational wealth transfer. Families that follow God’s design pass on hallmark values like generosity to their children like Chris did, rather than passing on a hoard of money.
The legacy of a generous family doesn’t just happen. In Chris’ case, he mapped a plan and worked it out. And like Abraham, it will bless generations he will never see.
Will you build a generous family legacy?
Not long ago, my daughter and son-in-law came to me and told me some surprising news. They were expecting my first grandchild. I was stunned, speechless, but incredibly excited. The months to delivery could not come fast enough.
When the big day finally came, I remember them bringing this little boy to me — so precious and tender. It was an awesome moment, but more than that I was struck by the solemnity, the sobering reality that I held generations in my hands. I could look at my grandson and see the future. I could see beyond him to countless others who might well follow hard after God.
What’s my job? To think generationally. To work hard at teaching God’s design for living to my kids, and my grandchildren with the exhortation that they might do the same.
This article was first published by ChristianSuper.