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How Do Family, Legacy, and Generosity Go Together?

I write often about family, legacy, and generosity.

I was having a conversation with a colleague who questioned me about those ideas–how do they go together? He emphasized that family and legacy are felt needs but that generosity is not.

True enough.

Family affects us every day. We wake up every day influenced by our family of origin or our family of creation. If I go to dinner with my wife, I talk about how our kids are doing. I’ve worked with families across the country enough to know that how our kids are doing, or will do in the future, affects us all. The book of Proverbs is full of verses about children–i.e., “a foolish son is a grief to his mother” (Proverbs 10.1, NASB).

Legacy affects us every day. I know that may sound strange. But legacy is the bigger, broader notion that we all want to do something permanent, something lasting. We are bothered by the fact that our lives are temporary and fleeting. We can work out, eat right, get plenty of sleep, and still not control the day of our exit. The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that God “has put eternity into man’s heart” (3.11, ESV).

On the other hand, we don’t wake up every day thinking about being generous. Sad to say, we often wake up thinking about our needs, our desires, and our wants.

Generosity is the result of family and legacy done right. To put it simply, if we want our children to live well–to flourish–we’ll teach them to be givers. We’ll teach them to love their neighbor. They’ll learn that life is not about them.

Nikos Kazantzakis says, “Only he who obeys a rhythm superior to his own is free.”

Generosity leaves a lasting legacy. No matter how much it’s preached, we need to be reminded over and over again that the person with the most marbles doesn’t win the game. The person with the greatest legacy of all time, Jesus, gave everything away.

Family, legacy, and generosity–they go together. They matter.

Related articles:
7 Things I’m Learning About Family Legacy
Giving as a Family
Growing a Generous Family

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. » Learn More. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

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