I pretty much know my daughter is not going to wear my wedding dress on the day she says “I do.” My son son isn’t going to be all that interested in my Pfaltzgraff dishes or coordinated shower curtains and towels either. They aren’t going to fight over who gets to keep my unmentionable pairs of yoga pants or get distressed over what happens to the salt and pepper shakers from their childhood home.
They probably won’t even care about a sizeable monetary inheritance if they had an empty relationship with me. It will just be cold cash, unwarmed by the light of good memories and the person who didn’t hold an influencing place in their lives.
The truth is, stuff is just stuff, even if it is nice stuff.
The Bible talks about not spending our lives storing up “treasures here on Earth, where moths and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,” Matthew 6:19.
We are warned: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet loses his soul?” Mark 8:36.
I don’t know about you, but at the end of my life, I want to know that I worked hard at giving my children an inheritance that can’t be measured in dollar signs or storage bins.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti the sentimental value of belongings of a person who meant a great deal to you, but I don’t want my kids feeling like they need to rent a storage unit to keep all the memories of “dear old mom” alive.
Here is a simple list of 10 things I want my children to inherit from me besides my stuff, listed in no particular order of importance.
1. Silly memories of fun times. I don’t want my kids to remember me as the drill sergeant that never smiled. Tickle fights, magic blanket forts, pretending to be pirates at the park and crazy family game times help round out all that discipline and discipleship that growing up requires.
2. A sense of self worth and service to others. Deeply rooted in the love of Christ and secure in the love their parents have for them, I hope my children develop an inescapable sense that their lives have value and so do the lives of others (Philippians 2:3-4).
3. Security in their parent’s marriage. No amount of money will compensate for the lack of a solid family foundation. God has grace for many different situations (my own parents are divorced), but I believe God is for the permanence of marriage, through His strength, for His glory, and I want my kids to see that lived out through their mom and dad. God values the family, and my prayer is that they will as well.
4. A love of reading and learning. Even if our preferences turn out to be different, I am striving to create a culture of literacy and learning in our home that will transcend my time here. I can’t teach them everything, but I can encourage their curiosity, guiding them in how to continue being lifelong readers and learners.
5. A willingness to try. No one is going to be great at everything, so I hope to leave my kids with an ability to attempt new things without the fear of perfection paralyzing them. They need to see me struggle, strive and even fail at things so that they are free to do the same.
6. Values based on Biblical truth. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth,” 3 John 1:4. No accomplishments or awards can take the place of having children who choose to Love the Lord with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength. Tending to their souls should take precedence over pursuing soccer trophies.
7. Room at their table for more. Selfishness is eating away at this world, and I pray to model to my kids that life isn’t all about their comfort. Showing hospitality and opening their homes to others in the name of Jesus are ways they can remember me when I’m dead that will matter.
8. Habits that point them to Jesus. By the time I am gone, I hope my kids will have been so entrenched in the spiritual disciplines that they know how to feed themselves. Daily devotions, praying for others, being a part of a local church; these are things they are watching to see hold any importance in my life now.
9. Character deep in their souls. A hefty bank account won’t amount to much if they haven’t learned to be honest, generous and trustworthy. Sowing seeds of character in them now when they are young takes time and intentionality, but will hopefully produce a harvest of righteousness if we don’t give up.
10. People are more important than stuff. Objects break, get lost or go out of style. My children need to know that “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions,” Luke 12:15. I have a responsibility to model loving others to them, not loving things (John 13:34).
Let’s stop getting lost in the accumulation and redistribution of earthly goods, and start diligently seeking God’s help to pass on things that cannot be taken away from our families. Thank God for what you do have, and use it to point others to Him.
Crystal Clark likes warm hugs, every shade of purple and seeks to love her family well as she and her husband raise their 2 hilarious children in a small Midwest town known for growing rhubarb. She is passionate about encouraging all women to rest and rejoice in Christ right where they are, and would love to connect with you on her blog at www.UnchangingGrace.com.
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