In 2002, British songwriter Brendan Graham wrote the poignant lyrics to “You Raise Me Up,” (© 2002 Universal – Polygram International Publishing, Inc.) and the next year Josh Groban made it an international hit. I’m quite sure neither Graham nor Groban intended the song to be a kind of legacy giving anthem, but that’s the way I see it.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be
Leaving a legacy passes the baton of our values, our vision, and our life’s work. Legacy giving represents one of the ways we ensure that hand-off takes place properly. We raise up the generations that follow in our footsteps by leaving the resources needed for them to effectively continue the work we start.
King David understood this principle. In 1 Chronicles 22 and 28, we read how God denied David the privilege of building his Temple. Instead, that honor was to be given to his son Solomon after David’s death. Undeterred, David set about the task of raising up his son and providing for the coming construction project. During his reign as king of Israel, David amassed a great fortune of gold, silver, bronze, precious stones, rare woods, and fine fabrics. He even prepared the plans for the building of the Temple. Then he drafted his will and bequeathed it all to his son for the building of God’s Temple.
Once his will was complete, he prayed, “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you and we have given you only what comes from your hand . . . all of this abundance we have provided for building you a Temple for your Holy Name, comes from your hand, and it all belongs to you.” (1 Chron. 29:14 & 16)
All of Christian philanthropy rests on that simple, humble prayer.
It’s why we speak of Christian giving as stewardship. Anything we “own” is, in fact, already God’s. We act as stewards of his assets, or more accurately, his Creation. Legacy giving embodies the ultimate stewarding of God’s resources entrusted to us. As we live our lives on the values and principles of scripture, we stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before us. In turn, our legacy gifts, make it possible for those who come after us to stand on ours.
Have you given thought to your legacy? You will leave one. Will it be the one you want to leave? Who will stand on your shoulders? Will they have the resources needed to carry on where you left off?
Bear in mind, the Church is the perfect place to leave part of your legacy (according to 1 Tim. 5:8, you are to provide for your family first). It’s fair to say, what came from God to begin with, can be entrusted to God’s people when you are gone. Think of it as one final tithe that keeps on giving! Like King David, your legacy gift makes it possible for others to be more than they can be on their own, for generations to come.