My wife’s mother once told her, “Your education is your inheritance.” Her family had escaped from Castro’s Cuba when my wife, Ana, was 11. They lost everything, including her father’s business, when they left. Although he worked hard in this country, he was almost 50 when they arrived in “Estados Unidos,” and was never able to build up much wealth.
But Ana’s parents were determined that she would have a college education, and sacrificed to make that possible. As her mother told her, “If we were able to leave you money, you could lose it. You could make bad investments; people could steal it from you or cheat you; or you could watch it lose value because of inflation. But no one can ever take your education away from you.”
The Bible says in Proverbs 13:22. “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” We usually take that to mean an inheritance of money, land or other types of physical wealth. And that type of inheritance is, well, inherent in this Scripture. But there are other types of inheritance that are just as important - actually, more important – than an inheritance that can be expressed in dollars.
Ana’s mother was right. Even though she received very little when the will was read, her degree in electrical engineering provided her with a good living, which allowed her to purchase a home. She even helped her parents with their living expenses as they got older. Of course, eventually a knight rode in on a white steed, married her, and she started her second career as a home-schooling mom.
Other ways parents can give an inheritance to their children (and their children’s children) include living a Godly and moral life in front of them. If parents and grandparents model a Christ-like lifestyle to children, they will be successful in all areas of their lives. Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Ana and I have also trained our daughter Sarah to understand money and business. This is an invaluable inheritance. I have often said when I speak to churches about inheritances that leaving too much money to a child can damage them. I have seen many examples of this during my years as a financial advisor. So I have told Sarah not to expect millions of dollars in my will. She knows that most of our money will go to the Lord’s work. But she also knows that she will receive enough money to get a good start in life. And she knows that what we have taught her will enable her to make an excellent living and give to God’s work herself.
We put Sarah on an excellent program called “Kid’s Wealth” when she was very young. As a result she knows more about money management than many of the adults I counsel. We have an expert, Rob Sansome, speaking on how the program works on the Christian Financial Concepts Webinar on Monday, July 8 at 8PM Eastern Time. Visit the calendar on the CFC website (see LINK below) or write to Webinars @ Bellsouth.net (remove the spaces) for a free invitation.
Here’s what Sarah (and thousands of other kids) have learned from Kid’s Wealth:
1) Giving is vitally important to financial success.
2) Saving as a foundational principle.
3) Delayed gratification (patience).
4) Respect for hard work.
5) Planning for larger purchases.
6) Tools for making better financial decisions.
(Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Kid’s Wealth, and do not receive any fees from them. I just think the program is great and is very reasonable (less than $40). And I want to spread the word about it.)
In addition to the Kid’s Wealth program, we have taught Sarah to think like an entrepreneur. We have explained how the businesses we have owned work. We never “talked down” to her, but have always answered her business-related questions. As a result, she has come up with a variety of entrepreneurial ideas herself over the years. We treat these initiatives seriously, explaining to her what it would take in terms of location, costs and employees to put her thoughts in action. I have no doubt that one day she will be a very successful businesswoman.
You will have a huge impact on the lives of your children and grandchildren – for good or for ill. Model moral behavior or immoral behavior before them. Either way, they will probably mimic you. Handle your finances responsibly and teach them to do likewise; or spend everything you get and run up debt. Most likely, they will follow your path. Make sure they respect education, and help them reach their goals. Not every child belongs in college, but if they are not oriented that way, help them discover their passion and get into a vocational training program or an apprenticeship.
You have an awesome responsibility – and an awesome opportunity to make a difference in precious lives. Don’t squander your opportunity.
Christian Financial Concepts: Free weekly Webinars; great articles and hundreds of hours of teaching videos posted on the site
Kid’s Wealth official website