A few weeks ago, we welcomed our first grandchild into the world. Amid my great joy, I have recently found myself reflecting on the incredible responsibility of raising children. Scripture advises that if we “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 ESV).
Looking back on my own childhood, I believe my parents did a fantastic job raising their children. Mom and Dad were involved in many aspects of the local church: serving on boards and committees, teaching Sunday school and leading small groups. They truly lived out their belief that both their time and money belonged to the Lord. I remember well the way they modelled biblical stewardship. This was not something that they talked about, but we kids could see it in the way our parents lived their lives and managed the household.
Without fail, right off the top came their giving to the local church, then to Christian charities and, finally, household needs. As children, we wrestled with knowing that a new car, a home convenience or a vacation would never get in the way of their giving. I clearly recall Dad, who always had great ideas and big plans, sitting down with Mom to figure out what we could afford. Many times, those big plans were re-arranged so we could live within our means.
Did I regret not going on a fancy vacation or not having a car with power windows and air conditioning? Maybe at the time, but now I cherish those decisions and the way my parents were modelling generosity for my siblings and me.
When I became a parent, the world I raised my children in was quite different from the one in which I had grown up. Nevertheless, those core values instilled by my parents remained. Amid rapidly advancing technology, increasingly influential media and shifting societal values, my wife and I did our best to model biblical stewardship and generosity for our kids. We hope that at least some of the time we got it right. Now I want to continue modelling these values for my grandchild.
Many of my clients at Abundance Canada share a similar desire to instill generosity in their children and grandchildren. Yet giving today is not as visible as it once was. Automatic withdrawals, the tap of a credit card and online virtual donations are the norm. Our grandchildren won’t often experience placing money in the offering plate or buying material goods to send to a charity. However, recently my wife and I established a family foundation to keep our family focussed on generosity into the future.
The term “family foundation” sometimes makes people think of wealthy philanthropists like Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey, but anyone can give in this way. Our family foundation is like a unique savings account for a portion of our family giving. As the leaders of the family, my wife and I seed the account and commit to contribute funds on an annual basis. We encourage our grown children to give to the account as well, and in time we hope our grandchildren will do the same.
Every year, we meet up to prayerfully decide how a portion of the funds will be disbursed. We look forward to these opportunities to gather everyone together to connect, pray and discuss what charities are important to us. This structure helps keep generous giving front-and-centre throughout the year. Perhaps a family foundation would be helpful for your family, too.
I am quickly learning that grandparenting is a wonderful blessing and an awesome responsibility. Following in my parents’ footsteps, I hope and pray that my family is developing an enduring understanding of the importance of generosity and establishing a legacy of joyful giving for generations to come.
Brad Friesen is a gift planning consultant at Abundance Canada and is in Abbotsford, B.C. To learn more about setting up a family foundation and other gift solutions, call Abundance Canada at 1-800-772-3257 or visit abundance.ca.