For some, a family legacy is an estate plan. It is about an estate plan—but much more. It is about passing on to future generations our heart and our virtues and our meaning to life. Our deep understanding of God’s place and direction for our family represents a family legacy. We must ask, what is He calling for each of us as individuals and as a family unit to do? What is the family legacy you will create?
Here is the tough part of understanding family legacy. It does not mean that we push our virtues on our spouse or our children. God has a story for each of us, and He is not done with our story. We cannot complete the story of someone else. Only God can do that. Our responsibility is not to try to “help” them understand what they don’t know through our legacy. We cannot buy that understanding for them or intimidate them through holding back money, love or by getting angry.
So what can we do to pass our legacy and allow the grace of God to finish the story He writes for our spouse and children?
If you have no talent for talking without emotion or you simply don’t do well communicating, better if you keep quiet. Pray for God’s grace and create an estate plan that nurtures the virtues that you believe God is calling you to.
If you can communicate effectively or have enough counseling to know how to do so effectively than follow these tips:
1. Take your time.
When you feel like sharing with your spouse or kids, postpone it for a week or more. Go over all the possibilities and pray for the Spirit to help you and to comfort you and to reveal God’s grace for what you want to say.
2. Size up the risk.
Talking about truth is risky because what you deem to be truth may not be someone else’s truth even though you see yours as Godly truth. Again, you may want to seek counsel as to how to approach what you want to communicate.
3. Wait for a signal.
I truly believe that God creates the environment for healthy communication and will soften the heart of the spouse or child to hear the message. If He doesn’t don’t move forward.
4. Start with the end statement.
I think it is healthy to build a person up before saying anything that might be perceived as negative. When you start by wishing them well, you are blessing them.
5. By all means do not claim you have the truth or have holy motives.
Nobody wants to be told that you are a messenger of God with the only truth that matters. Remember all that you say to them must bless them and be a gift to them.
It is always helpful to let them unload so as to let the air out of the bag. They are much more open to hearing if you humble yourself to them.
7. Make it short.
Tell them what you want to say or apologize—if that is necessary—based on what they have said and then let them process it.
8. Give the other person time.
God has His own plan and timing for writing our stories. Trust it. Be kind, loving and understanding. Know that only God can create the right moment and result. It may not be God’s wish that your deep virtues come from you. They may discover the truth that God wants them to hear from someone else and then “reveal” it to you. Just listen, agree and thank them.
Your objective in passing your deep Godly virtues to your spouse and children as a legacy of truth and meaning is the noblest thing you could do with your life. Unfortunately, we cannot change or move others to heal or contrition—no matter how much your heart burns in you to reveal God’s truth.
Passing an impactful family legacy is about revealing what God has revealed to you. God must be in charge to reveal it in the rest of your family. You may be the conduit of that blessing or not. If you accept that fact, your estate plan will be a loving reassurance of your open heart. This does not take away the pain of them not hearing or listening to what God has revealed to you, but it gives God the job of redemption and sanctification. I think He likes it that way!
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By Joe Sturniolo
Christian Family Legacy and Wealth Planning
Joe believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring
about significant impact for His Kingdom.