At this week’s Kingdom Advisors monthly meeting, Bill High, leader of the National Christian Foundation – Heartland organization, spoke on legacy planning. KA, a national organization, consists of attorneys, accountants, insurance and financial advisers across the country who are dedicated to helping members of the church at large to wisely manage all the resources we have. Of course, this is not just our money and stuff, but our time and attention, our very selves.

Hopefully at this time of Thanksgiving, we think a little longer and more deeply about our priorities in this life – our relationships with God, our spouses, children and grandchildren. Our financial resources are meant to be just a means to an end, a tool we use for our needs and to bless others as well as we can.

The brevity of this physical life becomes clearer with every passing year. What am I preparing to leave behind for my children, grandchildren, and perhaps future generations I will not get to see and know?

As advisers, we often chuckle with clients who stress that their primary goal is to make it through to their lives’ end with a dollar left. It is not their intent to leave a bundle to the next generations, but if something is left, that is fine too. I submit that our non-financial legacy is far more important than any monetary inheritance we could ever leave to them.

Why is this such an unusual topic for discussion and planning today? Even those leaving hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars spend almost all their time and attention upon their financial assets, not the lasting values for which they stand. We know we have to engage good lawyers and others now to make all the pieces come together after our deaths so our desires are implemented as easily and inexpensively as possible. That is necessary.

Have we fallen into the pit of current culture, thinking it is none of our business how our descendants turn out? Every person must go his or her own way, make his own mistakes and learn the hard way because there is no objective truth, right?

The process of educating the young is difficult enough even when we are willing to claim we have a body of knowledge and wisdom accumulated from prior generations. Today we are reluctant to declare this. We think teaching youngsters that principles of morality and values can help them live better lives is somehow the height of conceit.

On the contrary, most people learn from their own mistakes, but wise people learn from others’ errors. Stupid people do not learn from either. (Various sources are credited with voicing this concept, the earliest of which may have been Otto von Bismarck, the German leader of the late 19th century.)

Should not we love our own family members enough to try to help them navigate this complicated, often difficult life? Even if they are not wise enough to learn what they could, we will have done the right and loving thing.

Next week I will discuss the positive steps we can take to pass on what is far more important to us from an eternal perspective than money or stuff.

 

(Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Advice is intended to be general in nature.)

 

Ron Finke is president of Stewardship Capital in Independence. He is a registered investment adviser. Reach him at rcfinke@stewcap.com