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About this series
Leaving a Legacy that Lasts Forever
How to Give Your Kids and Grandkids What Money Can't Buy
How do you leave a legacy that stands the test of time? How do you give others what money can't buy? We all desire to leave an inheritance of significant value to those around us. So, just what does that include? We can leave money and possessions, but what can we leave that really matters and will echo throughout time?More from this series
Let me give you a picture and then I’m going to give you practical ways to pass this on. The two pictures are, one, if you ever want to read about a man, one of my most favorite characters is Nehemiah in the Old Testament, and Barnabas in the New.
And the story of Nehemiah, very briefly, is he is the right-hand man to the most powerful man in the world. Israel has sinned against God, so He promised He would disperse them across the world, and He did. And so you have Jews in all these different places and now Persia is the ruling empire and Nehemiah opens with this place called “Susa,” which is up in the mountains. So it’s cool because it’s very hot in Persia, or Iran, in the summer.
And so the king has this right-hand man named Nehemiah and he is called a “cup-bearer,” but the cup-bearer’s job was more than tasting the wine or the food to make sure it wasn’t poison.
He became a confidant. And so, basically, Nehemiah has the hottest chariot, the greatest clothes, the most money, the best food. He is a person of great influence and affluence. He is filthy rich. And he lives in a palace. He drives a Lexus chariot. And he doesn’t feel guilty about it. He’s got a Rolex sundial.
God deposited that in Nehemiah for a window of opportunity and he wasn’t a prophet and he wasn’t a pastor and if you studied all of God’s agenda for His people, you would find out that man was the linchpin between all of God’s prophecy going in the tubes and Israel being restored.
He sent Ezra back, it didn’t work. He sent Zerubbabel back to rebuild. It wasn’t until Nehemiah, the business guy, the guy with position, the guy with power, the guy with leadership gift who could mobilize everyone to turn everything around.
Stewardship isn’t feeling guilty for having money and position and power and brains. Stewardship is an understanding: It’s not yours. All you get is a verse that is hard to live with. “To them much given, much is required.”
And so, when you make a lot of money and say, “I tithe,” God is not impressed, nor is anyone else. How hard is it to tithe when you have six figures or seven figures or beyond? The most generous people in the world right now are the poor.
And when things go down, the people who stop giving first, by all the research, are us rich. And Nehemiah, he is this model of what it looks like to be godly and to be wealthy and to be generous. In fact, he decided, “No personal expenses for me.”
Barnabas is another one. Very wealthy man. He owned property on Cyprus. He was the key. We would have never heard of the apostle Paul if it wasn’t for Barnabas.
Barnabas was the one who had the courage to say, “Hey, he is legit, guys. He really is a Christian. I know he has been killing all the Christians, but I have seen him, I have met him, he is legit.” And he introduces Paul to the Twelve.
And then when Christianity launches into the Gentile world, they say, “Barnabas is the leader in the church. Barnabas, we want you to go down there and disciple those new Gentiles.”
And the text says, in Acts, “So he went down to Paul’s hometown,” gets Paul, and says, “Hey, let’s partner on this thing.” The first missionary journey; read the text! It’s not Paul and Barnabas, it’s Barnabas and Paul! Until you keep reading, and then it’s Paul and Barnabas. He was a wealthy man who had leadership gift, who God used.
It’s a stewardship. It’s a stewardship. God has given you what He wants you to have, and He wants you to manage your money as a steward.
The biggest lesson I learned from all this, and it’s a picture, and it’ll help the rest play out. I was a young pastor and twenty-eight years old; I had no idea what I was doing. I had been through the parachurch, so I knew how to make disciples, and I was learning how to teach.
And after a couple of years, the chairman of our board, he owned a CPA firm in downtown Dallas. And he said, “You know something?” We were out in a rural area. “You are connected to all these hurting people and I have a heart for the poor and I have a heart for people with needs. You have opportunity; I have money.”
And he said, “I want you to come down and let’s eat lunch together.” So I end up in this high rise, beautiful place, really nervous, going up to the something-something floor. We have a great lunch and then he pulls out a little brown checkbook. And he puts it, and he says, “Chip, this is for you.” I said, “What is it?” He says, “I would like you to be my money manager.”
I said, “Well, what do you mean?” He said, “Well, you’re a pastor. You know where the church is at, there are a lot of hurting people and poor people, runaway teens, all kinds of struggles. I have put five thousand dollars in that account and it says: ‘Pastor’s discretionary fund.’ Now, here’s what I want you to do. Once a quarter or at least three times a year, I am going to bring you here and we are going to have lunch together.
“But I want you to take this and I want you to stick it in your back pocket. And I want you to just think, John Savle is in my back pocket. But Chip Ingram has the eyes and Chip Ingram is meeting with people. So every day, I want you to get up and as you get up, you might see someone that has a need or someone who needs a bus ticket or someone’s electricity needs to be put on. And I just want you to pray and whatever you think God would have you do with this money, in my name, will you take care of it?”
“Uh,” I mean, he’s chairman of the board, “yes.” I’m thinking, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m thinking, This may not be a good deal. I’m going to mess up. And so, anyway, I take it and I’m really nervous.
So about, I lost my keys, like, five thousand times, until I was twenty-nine. And it took me twenty-nine years and I decided, right when I stand in the door, my keys, my wallet and everything in one, little pile. Okay? This is an amazing thing that I learned.
And then I started putting that checkbook with it. So every day, everywhere I went, John, John, John, what would John want to do? So this lady, they are turning off her thing and I qualified it and it was a real need and I write a check and I pay her electricity.
And then there is this kid who’s running away from home from Oklahoma and he’s been on drugs and I know I’m not going to give him money so I buy him a ticket for the bus and I do some counseling with him and I get a Bible in his hands.
And so then four months later, John says, “Chip, let’s have lunch!” And so, John is a very quiet introvert but with the gift of evangelism. So he says, “Tell me what happened?” And so I said, “Well, here is your checkbook.” And so, there were about four entries and I had written four checks. “Tell me about this one.”
I tell him the story. And this is an exclusive restaurant. Top level, real, I’m very intimidated. And so, I tell him the story, “Praise the Lord!” I’m going, “Oh, John, oh, man. Dude, you are killing me. This is not…”
“Tell me another story!” So I would tell him these stories and he would say, “Praise the Lord,” in very loud words. And so we did this. And we did this for, like, seven years. And then I would give it away and then I would get, then I would notice I would get my bank slip and, Oh, I guess someone put another five thousand dollars in.
No matter how much I gave away, and as I told stories, the money just kept, as I gave, it kept being put in.
Now, there are a number of lessons here. One, John and I became really close friends. I brought unbelievable joy to his heart. I got to help people in ways I never dreamed I would get to.
In fact, it got from this burden to, it was kind of like, Here are my keys, here is my wallet, John, I wonder what we are going to do today, baby! You know? Ooh, whoa, ho! You just wonder who you are going to bless. I felt like Santa Claus sometimes, you know?
Now, I knew I was going to give an account for it and I’m not real detail oriented. So I’m keeping his checkbook better than mine. Why? Because I am going to go talk to him, right? And I can’t, first, nothing can bounce. But the other is, I actually need to add it up right.
Why? Because it’s his money, not mine. I am his steward. I brought joy to his heart. Our hearts connected because I managed his resources and I wasn’t asking, Who do I think I should help? I was asking, I wonder, I’m not stupid. If I got a really, “Praise the Lord!” and that was a really great one, I am giving more money to that stuff and if it’s, “Oh, that’s nice, Chip,” I’m not going to give as much money to that stuff, right? Because it’s his money!
You are God’s money manager. And one of the most powerful, important gifts that you will pass on to those you love the most, those, first in your home: kids; those you disciple; later, grandkids for some of you; fellow church members, is to help them manage their wealth wisely.
Now, I want to shift gears and say, How? What would that look like, specifically? Now, there is Dave Ramsay, Crown Ministry, lots of people that go in depth on these areas and can give you ten times what I am going to give you.
I’m going to give you the mountain peak summary of what I think you need to pass on. And then there are tons of great resources to get you there.
How are you managing your wealth currently? If, God gave you a report card on how you’re presently managing your wealth in light of what you have heard from His Word, would you get an A, a B, a C, a D, or an F?
Because you can’t pass on what you don’t have in you. You can’t ask those people you are helping to do what we are going to talk about if it’s not true of you. And even if you never talk to them about it, if you actually do it, they will catch tons of it from you. So where are you at?
What I know is, since in the “born again, evangelical community” the average believer gives two point five percent of their income to the Lord’s work. That is saying to God, I don’t really believe Your Word, I don’t trust You for the future, I think it’s my money, and I am going to do with my money what I think.
And what I think God would say, if He could speak through Dr. Phil, “So, how is that working for you?” People are upside down, there is huge debt, they live above their means.
See, when you give God the first portion, as we’ll talk about in a minute, it just causes a domino effect of, Wow, what are we going to do with the rest? And how do we do it? And there is a correlation of God blessing, okay? There has been some real mis-teaching and some bad teaching and some heretical teaching about how money and God and those things go together.
There is no “give to get” mentality. But I will tell you this, when your priorities are in line and God can find what I think some people wisely have called, “A stream instead of a dam,” then He will keep placing resources in people whose hearts are tender to spread it and give it to the places that He wants it.
“You who water others will yourselves be watered,” according to Scripture. And when our finances aren’t in order, read Habakkuk chapter 1, the first ten verses. He will put a hole in your purse. He will blow on your business deals. God uses money to align our hearts with Him and when our priorities are out of whack, I will tell you, you keep working harder but it seems to come to nothing. He says He will allow your financial situation to get you to a point of dependency, where you say, You know something? I better get this aligned correctly.
And then there is just very often the correlation as you do that, He chooses to bless in that area, as well as others.
Well, personal application. Now let’s talk about how to help those to pass it on. One, help them recognize the three purposes of money are giving, saving, and spending.
And if there is, I don’t know if you ever memorize Scripture and if you don’t, I encourage you to. But if there is ever a little passage, singular, if you could only have one passage on money, I would memorize 1 Timothy 6:17 through 19. And it says, “Encourage those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches,” they are uncertain, aren’t they?
And so it’s a protection. God is not down on money. “Encourage those who are rich in this present world,” that’s us, “not to fix your hope on the uncertainty of riches,” oh, we are going to do this when this happens, “but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”
So there are three things you do with money. You can give it, you can save it, you can spend it. If you grew up in my home, there were three jars on your dresser. And on one jar, it said, “Giving,” another said, “Spending,” another said, “Saving.”
And since, yes, there is proportional giving and we will learn all about that later, but you get ten times, one dime goes into the giving jar. One dime goes into the saving jar. And eight of them go into the spending jar. And you can dream and think and pray about what you want to do to spend that. And remember that all ten of those dimes are God’s, right? Because we give it to that one first.
And, by the way, you need to be smart so make sure you save. Americans don’t save and Americans don’t give and I think I don’t even need to talk about where we are at, financially, as a country. We have modeled it from the home, through the federal government, and we are in a mess. You can’t violate God’s principles without a lot of pain. So, that is a big one.
Second, encourage them to commit to honor God with the first fruits of every paycheck to remind them that it’s God’s money and not their own. Proverbs chapter 3, verses 9 and 10. It says, “Honor the Lord with your first fruits.” Give God the very first portion and then the promise is, “Then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats,” where they would create the wine and the picture of overflow, “will be overflowing.”
And so, you want to teach them early on, and not so much the rule, the rigidity. This is not like, “Okay, you have to pay your bills. Bill, bill, bill, bill, God. Ten percent.” No, no, no, no.
You want to teach them the heart behind it. And your love for God. And I think when they get older you want to teach them to, How do you give over and above that? How do you become a generous person?
The word, “miserable,” comes from a root word. Do you know what the root word is? “Miser.” I have done a lot of work, we did a series on the Genius of Generosity. I did a lot of work and research on just generous people. Forget Christians. Just generous people.
Generous people live longer. Generous people are happier. Generous people have better relationships. Generous people are liked by other people. Generous people have an emotional altitude that is better than the rest of us.
The most generous being in the entire universe is God. He gave His Son. So you want to be generous, you want to be winsomely generous. Miserly people, stingy people, the Scrooges of the world don’t have as many friends, they are always worried about someone taking their stuff, they have higher levels of anxiety, they are not very happy campers, and they try and control everything.
Giving breaks the power of greed and all of us, in our flesh, are greedy people. We all are. So, giving is a tool given by God, not to take something from us, but to help us remember, Look, hey, Chip, it’s not your checkbook. It’s not your money. That’s John’s. Spend John’s money or give John’s money in a way that makes John happy.
And, by the way, I didn’t tell you this. But there was a time, we were in a little small church and they had the gift of not paying me much at all. In fact, I worked part time in seminary and made more money than when I pastored the church.
And there was a time where we really had a need. And John was asking me some questions at one of our lunches. And, I forget, it was a washer or a dryer, some big thing that, for us, was astronomical. And he was praising the Lord and everything.
And then he asked me about me. And I told him. He goes, “Give me that checkbook!” So he takes his checkbook, he writes out a check to me, he goes, “Hey, you’re the guy. Sign this one. It’s in your name.” See, the whole deal is God is not trying to get your stuff. He loves you! He is for you! But He wants to free you. And so, pass on, encourage them to honor God with the first fruits.
Three, make time with God their number one priority so they know how to invest their time, talent, and treasure that is entrusted to them.
That bricklayer, I have had seminary professors, I got to learn three years of Greek and two years of Hebrew. And I have had business guys who know so much more, they have taken me under their wing.
The greatest gift God has ever given me in all my life that has paid the biggest dividends was from a bricklayer with a high school education who met me on Tuesday mornings when I was a Christian about three or four months old. I didn’t want to get up, I didn’t want to go to church, and sometimes I pretended I was asleep. And he would knock on the door. And I would just go, Ah, I’m just not getting up. And the next Tuesday, he would knock on the door.
And I was a reluctant learner, and I will tell you, what that man did is that he would open the Bible and we would go into the little kitchenette on the floor, and we would read the Bible together. And he taught me to meet with God. He taught me: No Bible, no breakfast. Not legalistically.
But, “Chip, feed your soul before you feed your mouth. Chip, do you understand, this is the living and abiding Word of God? Chip, do you understand the wisdom of God has been deposited here. You can know what to do in any situation. Chip, do you understand? David said, ‘If His Word had not been my delight, he would have perished in his affliction.’ Chip, this is your anchor. God will speak to you. The God who made everything there is, there is power. It’s a living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword; it pierces as far as the division of soul and spirit. And it cuts through the division, right down to the core of who you are. It will reveal things to you. It will show you how to do marriage, how to parent, how to live. Chip, this is the most important thing. It is your life.”
And a little habit got started a couple of days a week, then I finally I would do it four or five days a week. And then after about four or five years, it became not just drudgery and duty but, Gosh, God is speaking to me more often. And I didn’t like to get up, I was a night owl. And years later, I remember just saying, God, this is, You just wake me up whenever. And I stopped watching the eleven o’clock news and God started waking me up earlier and earlier.
And the greatest thing you can do is say, God, I want Your discernment and Your wisdom and I am going to meet with You first. And it says that after this demanding day of teaching and preaching and healing and casting out demons and everybody wanting a piece of Jesus, I think He felt like, I think His emotions were, if He were today, He opened up His computer and there were five hundred emails. And then He looked at His PDA and there are a hundred and fifty phone calls. And there are people knocking at the door.
And the people closest to Him said, “By the way, by the way, by the way. We think You ought to do this.” I think that’s the emotion He felt. And it says, “A great a while before dawn, He went to a lonely place to get alone with His Father and pray.”
Sometimes we are asking people to solve stuff or a book to solve stuff. God wants to solve it. And if you will do that and model that, that is what you want to pass on. You want to pass that on to those you love the most.
Life’s message is: Your life is a sacred stewardship. It’s sacred. There is a Creator who owns everything. And you are a creature. He is the Master and we are the servant.