Dr. James Dobson, past president of Focus on the Family, wrote in his most recent book Your Legacy: The Greatest Gift:
“The history I have shared to this point represents more than the biography of an American family from the late 1800s to our present day (2014)…the significance of this account is centered on how ‘the faith of our fathers and mothers’ was preserved and handed down to the present generation…the message of the gospel survived among my forbearers for more than one hundred years, despite an endless array of obstacles and challenges.”
Dr. Dobson is talking about the most legacy that we to leave the next generation and how it survived. He is aware that today the difficulty of continuing that tradition is strewn with obstacles. Our countries obsession with what is politically correct and the attack on principles that Christians believe has most of the next generation questioning the validity of a Christian legacy.
I am afraid that even the word “legacy” has lost its significance due to overuse and abuse. Christian Family Legacy is about the meaning that your inheritance has on the next generation. It is not just a synonym for inheritance. It goes deeper. It refers to passing the love of Jesus to all those that follow. It is about Stewardship of all that God has gifted you. It is about God’s ownership of everything that you have.
I have discovered through hundreds of estate plans that passing your virtues on to the next generation comes with a fair amount of challenges. So many of our children have lost faith, don’t believe in marriage, don’t want children or are gay or lesbian.
Listen to the music of today and tell me that this generation hasn’t lost their way.
If you don’t take on this challenge directly and with a stubborn resolve, you will have ended the cycle of virtues that began many years ago, as Dr. Dobson pictures in his book.
So where do you begin?
1. Understand and articulate your story.
Please see this post: How to communicate your family legacy.
2. Share your story and your vision for the future of the family and each one of your kids at a family meeting.
The family meeting is the most important method of communication within a family.
3. As parents, bless each other formally in front of the entire family.
Read How to Create a Blessing. Blessing each other is a way for the children to see how you love each other despite the messes that may have been a part of your marriage. If you are divorced or widowed, bless the one who is not present. Even if you have had an ugly divorce, this is the kids parent and your blessing of them demonstrates how you bless others – in particularly one who you may not even like.
4. Bless each of your children.
I believe it is critically important that a father and a mother bless their children and their future. It is an opportunity to articulate the ideal future and to plant a seed of God’s grace in the heart of each child.
5. Invite the children into your giving plan.
There is no better way to teach about your virtues than to share your giving. At whatever age, giving them the opportunity with your money to feel what is like to give.
6. Go on a mission trip with the kids.
I have seen it happen again and again. Your children will be different if they go on a mission trip. It changes them. They will not be the same again (nor will you).
7. Pray for your children every day.
If you find it hard to do a lot of what I am asking, then let God do the work. Give each child to God through prayer and let Him do his magic. It may take time, but one of the secrets of Christianity is waiting.
8. Be transparent with your children.
Your children know intuitively a lot about you that you have never told them. It is amazing when I ask my kids to be honest with me about something. Be transparent with them about the good and bad. When you share your vision, you have an opportunity to share things that you have never shared. Outside of that, spend dinners and outings where you can share difficult discussions. This is the most effective way for them to share with you.
9. Model, model, model.
One of the greatest ways of demonstrating your virtues is to demonstrate it in the way you live. Even if you divorce or decide not to go to church or get fired from a job, your open expression of your sorrow and your heart will demonstrate that Jesus loves us no matter what. One the greatest lies in society today is that Christians are supposed to be perfect. Look at the Duggar family scandal and how society treated them!
Demonstrate to the kids that we are all sinners and that God is a forgiving, loving God that is always there with grace, mercy, compassion and love.
Download this free ebook that will help you understand what’s possible once you discover how to become a better steward by eliminating taxes by focusing on Kingdom causes that will enable you to build an enduring family legacy.
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.