If you wait until you’re dead, it’s too late.

Family Legacy, Family Planning

If you wait until you’re dead, it’s too late.

Eric DunavantOctober 14, 2019

This is the number one truth I’ve learned in my life. Your legacy, my legacy, is built while we’re living, not after we’re dead. The real question is, what does it mean to build a legacy?

Every single day, this enters my mind. I’m constantly wondering how each conversation with my children, my wife, or my employees is pouring into them. I’m aware every breath I take could be my last, and because of that, I want to make sure everything I do builds into my legacy.

Last week I spent some time with a group of successful Entrepreneurs. As they talked about legacy, everyone seemed to be concerned with accumulation. This wasn’t a unique experience.  Many times, when the word legacy comes up, the conversation seems to gravitate towards how much someone has built up financially and what might be left behind after they are gone. Don’t get me wrong, the financial portion does need to be considered, but it is only part of the equation.

Most importantly, building your legacy needs to be based on your priorities, not someone else’s agenda. I want to offer three points to consider, as you think about building a lifetime of legacy.

The first is centered around protection. When we think of protecting things, usually we are trying to avoid catastrophe. This mindset shifts when we put this into the legacy framework.

The real question you are looking to answer is how much is enough for your family to get by. How do you make sure you put measures in place so your family can stay together and keep going if you lost everything?

There are certainly financial elements to consider, but the biggest part is understanding contentment. We need to get to a place where we understand that no matter what happens, God still has us in his hand, and no matter where we are, it’s his perfect plan, and his provision will be enough.

There is a balance in considering how the financial world says we should do things, while at the same time, not denying God an opportunity to work in our lives as he sees fit.

The second involves aligning your vision for your life with what God has laid out for you. In the United States, we live in a time of abundance. If you look historically, this is the wealthiest time that has ever existed.

Because of that abundance, we are constantly spending time trying to keep up with the Joneses. This creates a challenge when we consider what it is God might want for us. The hardest question I’ve ever been asked was where I had set my finish line. In other words, when do I have enough?

The world is constantly telling me that I’ll never have enough. It teaches me discontentment in thinking I’ll always need more. The real question is, how much of this blessing does God want me to enjoy, and how much of this blessing is an excess to be used to bless others?

No one else should be allowed to determine the type of lifestyle you lead, that’s not their job. The only way you can truly answer that question is to spend time in prayer, asking God what he would have you do.

I’ve known families who lived abundant lives because God has called them to be in places of wealth, so they could influence other people in that space. I’ve known other wealthy families who God has asked to limit spending and use most of their excess for giving. Each one of us has a specific journey that God has called us to. That’s between you and God.

The third involves considering how to eventually transfer everything we have been entrusted with, as we live life and walk through these decisions. What do you transfer to your children or grandchildren? What do you transfer to others through giving? Each of us has an obligation to give something.

The question is, how much do we give and to whom? Opening ourselves to asking this question, allows us to sit with open hands and truly wait for an answer. I remember when I left Charles Schwab to start my own business. God challenged me to give away half of the cash I had saved, in order to be in line with the way he wanted to bless my business.

It shocked me, it shocked my wife, but through obedience, we were blessed. The reason I share that piece of our story is because with transferring your wealth comes the opportunity to transfer wisdom. I’ve shared this story with my children and many others to pass on the wisdom I’ve gained from my experience trusting God’s direction.

Your stories and experiences are as valuable to those around you as any financial gift you might give them. I would go so far as to say they are more valuable than any financial gift. At the end of the day, if all we could transfer was our wisdom, that might be the greatest gift of all.

No matter what we do financially, legacies are built based on relationships. Whether we care to recognize it or not, money is relational. What might be possible if you were to take a step back, realize you have the opportunity to ask the creator of the universe how He would have you use what He’s given you? What might be possible if you were to align yourself with that plan? The beautiful part in that alignment is partnering with Him and seeing His beautiful outcomes. Those beautiful outcomes will leave a legacy beyond anything we can imagine.

At Paradiem, we believe money doesn’t cause problems, but it certainly has the power to reveal and magnify issues you may have been ignoring. Most professionals do a great job helping families create great tax plans that are tragically horrible family plans. Our experience is that beginning with a different perspective, creates outcomes beyond anything your current professionals have helped you develop. I encourage you to get a copy of our whitepaper, “Are there unintended consequences hidden inside your current estate or business plans?” If you would like a copy, email info@paradiem.org with the subject “Unintended Consequences” or give us a call at (985) 727-0770.

 

About the Author

Eric DunavantEric is the president of Paradiem, a man devoted to God and the advancement of His Kingdom.

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