Grandparenting. It’s a great thing. I’ve got two little grandkids of my own, and we are having a blast. I remember the moment that the first little one came home. It was such a joy to hold my grandson. At the same time, it was a sobering moment as I realized that I held the future in my hands−even generations to come.
In truth, I think that’s how God wants us to look at our grandchildren. Not just as fun little ones to play with, but also as future generations where we can intentionally invest. Here are some of the ways we can invest:
- Values. Psalm 78:5-6 says: “He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.” God wants your grandchildren to carry on your values and the values of their parents for generations to come. When you’re gone, will they still believe in Jesus? Will they still walk with God? Consider how you can be intentional in passing on values to your grandchildren.
- Stories. The Bible records that the Passover celebration is to start with the youngest child asking: “Why is this night different from all other nights?” It is essentially the request to retell the story. Part of values transmission is helping them know and understand your family stories. Tell them how you met their grandmother, what it was like when their mom was born. Share what it cost to get to the place you’re at in life now. Be intentional and record the stories that will keep the legacy going. A good tool for this is www.familyarc.com.
- Planning. Make sure you’ve planned your estate adequately so that you can avoid unnecessary tax and pass your estate on to your children and grandchildren with wisdom. Make sure you have the right tools in place, whether that’s a will, a trust, or transfer on death provisions. Life insurance, IRAs, and 401Ks should all have the proper beneficiary designations. If you own a business, make sure you’ve planned properly for succession. Decide whether your children or grandchildren are the right ones to lead it into the future.
- Wealth. Ask yourself, “How much should I pass on to my children?” Be wary of leaving them a windfall, and consider whether the money you do leave them will harm them or help them. Will it lead to an attitude of entitlement? As David Green, CEO of Hobby Lobby, says in Giving It All Away and Getting it All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously, “If I would lose one child or grandchild over wealth, then it would be better if Hobby Lobby never existed.” I’ve always heard it said that the best way to know if your children are able to handle an inheritance is whether they need it or not. Stated differently, the more our children and grandchildren have character capital, work ethic, and spiritual foundations, the more capable they will be to handle financial capital.
- Generosity. Perhaps one of the most profound values to pass on to children is a heart of generosity. Generosity is a great reflection of a person’s ability to handle financial wealth. A generous person is a joyful person and reflects the character and image of Christ. In Giving it All Away, Green describes how their family, including grandchildren, meets once a month to practice the art of giving. They review requests that they receive and talk about the merits of those requests. Furthermore, the grandchildren have their own donor advised fund through the National Christian Foundation (www.heartland.national christian.com) where the grandchildren give as a group. This practice of generosity helps cement values and promotes discussion about what matters.
FREE Heart of Grandparenting One Day Conference Saturday, Sept. 23
College Church of the Nazarene 20200 E. Sheridan St. Olathe, Kansas
Register: heartofgrandparentingconference.com or call (913) 710.1714
Hosted by College Church of the Nazarene & Metro Voice News
Why is this work of intentional legacy so important? Unfortunately, in too many families the work of raising children is often delegated to the schools, the church or youth groups. The real responsibility of raising children should rest with the parents and the grandparents. We cannot and should not leave the future of our families to chance.
The Scriptures tell us that a foolish son is a grief to his mother (Proverbs 10.1). On the other hand, John wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (III John 1:4). Passing on values is worth it. If we are to experience not only our children, but our grandchildren and generations beyond them continuing in faith, we’ve got to put in the hard work to pass on those values to them.
—William High is the CEO of the National Christian Foundation Heartland. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving it All Away and Getting it All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously. He can be reached at email@example.com.