What Will Our Legacy Be?
Have you ever wondered why you are the way you are? Why you own and appreciate the things that you do? I have thought about this. I wonder, why do I think, speak and approach life the way I do? Why do I love being outside whenever possible? When I consider this, I realize that besides my Creator, many individuals have influenced who I am, just as I will influence those who come after me.
Just like my grandfather and father shared their fondness of the outdoors with me, I have shared it with my children. My dad was a logger who loved the scent of the forest and healthy trees, and I enjoy walks in the woods. My mom loved and broke horses for years. I enjoy horses, sharing a juicy handful of grass or carrot with any horse who will accept. I also find myself appreciating Christ’s love and sharing it because of my mother’s devotion to him. She used to sing the song, “I Come to the Garden Alone” about spending quiet time with God in the morning. That song still rings in my head in the mornings when I go outside just like she did and appreciate each day fresh.
Have you considered what you want to share as your legacy? Maybe you have children, maybe you don’t, but you have more influence on others than you realize as you walk through life and even after death.
What will you and I be remembered for? Will people know when we are gone? No matter what age we are today, I would like to challenge us to think carefully about what we may want to leave for future generations.
When thinking about the future, I hope we consider the spiritual and physical needs of our families and those around us. We can make a difference if we plan. Think of that person who has made a difference in your life because they cared and had a plan to bless you. What if we plan to share with others? That is what God did for us (Romans 5). His plan is the reason we sit on this amazing blue planet spinning in the middle of the cosmos and experience his love, grace, and care every day.
Our Spiritual Legacy
Have we shared a spiritual legacy with our families and loved ones? Have we shared openly the love and faith that God put in our hearts with those inside and outside of our households? Jesus says, using the metaphor of the harvest for those ready to accept him, “Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest!” (John 4:35).
Have we thought about those in our families and neighborhoods who need to hear about the gospel and may be ready to accept Jesus as their Savior? Is God using us to reach them? We don’t have to be young and energetic to share the good news with those close to us. In fact, sharing the love of Jesus with just one or two people could change the world for them and the many others that they know. Have our lives been changed by knowing Christ? Why wouldn’t we want to share? Let’s help others experience this joy!
Our Financial Legacy
What about our financial legacy? According to LegalZoom, approximately 55 percent of American adults have not completed a last will and testament allowing for the orderly transfer of assets after death.
What happens without a will in place? Often the state and courts determine how assets will be distributed, at great expense and delay to the rightful owners. Family assets can go unclaimed and end up the property of the state, bypassing the surviving family. I hope we will not allow this to happen to our families.
If you do not have a will in place, please begin today. Speak with an attorney and take the time to get these important documents in place so those who you want to receive your assets will be blessed and not burdened.
A respected attorney who helps people with trusts, wills and estates every day and knows the laws within the state where you live is a good place to start. The expense you incur may provide you and your family with peace of mind that is far more valuable than the amount you spend. If you prefer to do things yourself, documents can also be found online. LegalZoom, LawDepot, and others provide such services. If you choose to do it yourself, please know that there are pros and cons to relying on online legal advice. Read reviews or get referrals for whatever option you choose.
Completing your will or trust could be one of the most important decisions that you make, and your family will forever be thankful to not have the burden of trying to discern your wishes after you die. Please start today! Also, ask legal counsel about a living will that outlines your health directives if you become unable to make these decisions later.
Sharing the Gospel After We Are Gone
For those who already have wills in place and for those who will be setting them up, please consider leaving a portion of your estate to Grace Communion International so you can continue to support the preaching of the gospel even after you are gone. Many people have generously supported the church over the years, and that support has been vital to the work of the church. However, not many of us have stopped to consider how we might leave a legacy of sharing the gospel after our death. Let’s consider how we can bless others with the gospel even after our physical life is over.
Examples of Generosity
I will never forget a modest trust that was set up by the Dulaney family in the mid-1960s with funds set aside to provide an annual payout to the church. This trust now pays over $100,000 to the church annually and that payment is growing along with the trust funds! Just think, you or I may have heard about the good news of Jesus as a result of this family’s thoughtful and generous gift to the church nearly 60 years ago! What a legacy!
A schoolteacher, Ms. Elizabeth Giordano, gave approximately $500,000 to support the gospel by naming the church as a beneficiary of a stock portfolio. Though of modest means, she thoughtfully invested in the stock market during her career and her investments were a significant blessing to the church. Perhaps you heard the good news of the gospel because of this wonderful teacher and her generous gift!
Many others have given and continue to give in various and meaningful ways in support of the gospel. Thank you all for your love and concern for others. Your donations of a widow’s mite or large estate are all appreciated and make it possible for us to join with Jesus in sharing the good news of the gospel!
Ways to Give
After we have properly taken care of our families, let’s consider how to leave a financial legacy that would bless others after we have passed. Important ways you can support GCI and leave a legacy of sharing the gospel around the world:
- Regular or recurring donations. Regular donations allow GCI to budget thoughtfully in support of the gospel. When regular donations are given, we can plan further ahead and avoid the uncertainty of future support. Thanks to all faithful and regular donors – you are a blessing!
- Designate GCI as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. If you are in a place where your family doesn’t need a life insurance benefit, since the children or other family members are on their own, consider changing the beneficiary on the policy to name GCI. This is one of the easiest ways to support the gospel after your death.
- Designate GCI as the beneficiary of your investment or retirement accounts. Members often name the church as a beneficiary of their IRA, 401(K), 403(b) or other investment accounts. Upon their death, ownership passes directly to the church.
- Designate GCI as a beneficiary in your will.
- Designate GCI as a beneficiary of a trust that supports the church in perpetuity. This is the option that was used by the Dulaney family in the example above.
- Donate a house or other real estate to GCI with the right to live on the property until after death. This allows the donor to receive the tax benefit of the donation now but live on the property until their death.
Thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully care for your family first by preparing a will, trust or other legal instrument(s) to transition your hard-earned assets to your loved ones.
Thank you also for supporting the gospel now and after your death by using one of the methods mentioned to bless those who will hear about Jesus through your gift.
We are happy to help or to answer questions. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 980-495-3963. If you decide to leave a gift to the church that will continue your legacy of generosity for the gospel, please contact us and let us know what you have done, so we can know about it and send our appreciation to you. It is a joy to be on this mission with you.