We’ve always called this weekly blog the Point of View. An alternate name could have been The Politically Incorrect Journal. It’s never been my desire to be in-step with the culture; I’ve always preferred to be in alignment with God, and the truth He has disclosed in the Scriptures.
A three-week series on Estate Planning? That was a bit of a head-fake; I’m challenging the model that is assumed, and, instead, starting at the beginning. What is God looking for, from me – and, from you? “Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. The man who hates and divorces his wife does violence to the one he should protect” (Malachi 2).
Grow up. Get married. Be faithful. Stay married. Have kids. Raise them to be godly. Repeat.
A generation of American Christians who are marrying later, if at all; the matrimony rates continue to decline. Faithfulness is now deemed unnatural; divorce has lost its stigma. Abortion – since Roe v Wade – has sent 62 million children from the womb to heaven, without an earthly life in-between. That’s more than the populations of California and New York, combined. And, for the kids that were born: for the minority who are raised in Christian homes, 75% who begin college confessing faith in Jesus will finish their time in a secular institution – public or private – as non-believers.
Step #1 in Estate Planning: Transfer the Invaluable. Model a vibrant, living faith in Jesus, and be sure that it passes to your children, intact. Without that, there is no meaningful heritage to perpetuate.
Step #2 in Estate Planning: Transfer the Values. On the foundation of a shared faith in Jesus, clearly frame the essentials that you – as the testator – intend to inculcate in your progeny.
Among our trendy peers, the discovery of innate capabilities – one’s Natural Talents – has become the scavenger hunt with a no-lose outcome. It’s insightful to share your StrengthsFinder results over coffee – or, around the fire with a glass of wine, without facemasks – to compare differences.
Next time, after everyone has disclosed their Strengths, suggest another category: what are your personal values? Values are the basic and fundamental beliefs that guide or motivate one’s attitudes and actions. Pursue your strengths, and you’ll get a Top-5 list from a pool of 34 (Gallup). Consider your values, and you find no finite summation of standard answers, even among Christians.
Moses encouraged the values-centric conversation between parents and their children: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
What are the values you’ve lifted from your faith experience that will be actively transferred to your children? Cheri and I have done that; we’ve landed on our Top-3:
- The Perspective of Eternity: everything we do in this life must be considered in view of its impact on Eternity. Short term thinking and actions are at risk of tragic consequences.
- The Priority of Calling: the “what am I here for?” question is powerful; seeking an answer from anyone but God is dangerous. We are each here for a purpose, by His design. Our job is to do it.
- The Practice of Stewardship: after personal redemption, the agenda of life is discipleship – growing up to spiritual maturity – followed by stewardship – using everything given to us by God to produce “fruit that will last:” Every Calling is deemed a trust, conferred by God.
Those are the Shank Family Values. We could put them on our tombstones; they won’t change.
We’re passing those along, to our kids, family and grandkids. What are the values you’re planning to leave?