I picked up some advice from a mentor about 14 years ago. He told me a legacy worth leaving involves memories worth repeating.
We’ll all leave a legacy of some kind, but will it be the kind of legacy our kids and families want to relive?
A legacy is built on family memories, repeated acts of service our kids witness or participate in with us, family gatherings that involve relationship-building, and wisdom-imparting traditions. We have opportunities in both good times and bad to be intentional about the memories that will become part of our children’s heritage.
Time: The key to a strong foundation
The choices you make build who you are, lay the foundation of your values, and grow the family you hold dear. It’s so important to spend time discerning what it is you want to leave with your family and what legacy God wants you to leave.
What does it look like for you? Be as intentional and prayerful as you can, and keep pursuing clarity from God. It can be difficult to be consistent over time, especially when God is stretching you in areas that need growth. But hold on, and trust that he is shaping your family identity with you.
As kids grow, they don’t always want to listen, and they have thoughts of their own! That’s not a bad thing, but it is something you have to prepare for. Make sure your family spends regular time together, and plan to listen closely to your family’s feelings and ideas. Make talking about the values that lead you to give a regular part of this time.
You can make family time fun and bring the subject up in casual ways. Take time to create an environment and culture that sets the stage for and nurtures those values.
This sets you up for memories and hugs, in good and bad times.
Spending intentional time together – even in short snippets – can help establish values. Demonstrating what it means to be a family together is vitally important. The foundations you lay with your own family become the foundations upon which future generations are built.
8 ways to get your family excited about giving
You can raise a family that gets excited about giving! Here are some practical ways:
- When kids are young, get them outside of their typical comfortable surroundings. If they have more toys than they need, help them choose which ones to give to someone who needs them more. From toddlers to teens, personalities are shaped by experiences, so be sure to nurture attitudes of service and giving as early as possible.
- As kids get older, encourage volunteering such as cooking for others, working on projects, or serving those in need. Think beyond the holidays and the popular soup kitchen options. There are many other ways to bless others around us.
- Take family mission trips and experience new cultures and witness ministry endeavors together.
- Carve out intentional time during leisure or family vacations to talk about how to impact the world for Christ. Conversations can be casual. Just ask for input about how your family can give, serve, share, and grow.
- Give your kids and grandkids money to give away, and use a pool of money to make group choices about what your family will support together.
- Sign up for family camps or service trips together. Shared experiences and serving experiences are key.
- Open an NCF fund as a wedding present for your kids when they get married.
- Share serving opportunities with friends and significant others as kids get older.
As you try some of these, you’ll find that your kids are learning how to live, but you, too, are learning – how to let go of things, possessions, money, time, and more. Your kids and grandkids will eventually learn to make their own giving decisions. But they learn it first from you.
That’s your real legacy.