The following is an expert from an interview with Don Ankenbrandt, Director of Stewardship and Strategic Engagement for OneAscent Wealth, founder of Alliance Ministries, and co-author of the 210 Project.
“When do most people start thinking about their legacy?”
For most people, there’s a trigger. They reach an age, usually between 45 and 50, where they realize their life is likely half over. It may be a birthday, a career milestone, becoming an empty nester, or retirement.
It’s often when they feel like they have “arrived.” They have accumulated their wealth, raised their kids, reached their goals, and the question for them is, “now what?” It leads to this searching. They want to do something worthwhile, something of value.
“How do people respond when they reach this milestone?”
More often than not, they don’t find that “something of value” right away. I’ve worked with several people who have gone from investing countless hours into building and running their business with passion and purpose to realizing that golfing every day lost its appeal weeks ago.
They’re bored. They feel like they gave away their passion or have nowhere to direct it. It’s a real struggle for those entering this season.
“How can someone get out of this ‘rut’ and build the legacy they’d hoped for?”
Great question. They need to go back to that “now what?” question and find a better answer. We like to reframe that question to say, “How am I going to utilize my time, talent, and treasure to bless the world around me?”
We also ask them questions to help them connect their desires to their purpose, such as, “What’s your dream now? Why did God give you so much?”
As followers of Christ, we believe that God is the owner, and we are the steward. If our money ultimately belongs to God, what are we doing to show that we honor that?
One of the most critical steps to this is determining how much they really need. Some of our clients have accumulated wealth beyond what they need to live out the rest of their lives comfortably. Now, they’ve worked hard for it, and we want them to be able to enjoy it. But often, this leads to the “greatest mistake” when leaving a legacy, which is passing on too much.
It’s unfortunate, but most of the time, this does far more harm than good because the recipients don’t have the ambition or motivation to steward it well.
In Matthew, Jesus uses the Parable of the Talents to describe two types of stewards: faithful and unfaithful, wise and foolish. So we talk with our clients about what it would look like to give away the rest. Their children are included in this, but the bigger question is what they are passionate about. What problems do they want to be a part of solving?
This could be food insecurity in their community, global access to education, supporting refugee camps, or providing clean and accessible water to impoverished countries. And these are just a few examples. People are looking for adventure and want to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Do you have any other advice for those who may be nearing this stage of life?
Absolutely. The earlier you start thinking about these questions, the better. Life comes at you fast. I’d recommend talking to an advisor while you’re still at least a year or two out from retirement.
What is everyone looking for, no matter who they are or where they’re from? Purpose and peace. Our desire is to help you find that.
Reach out to us here to connect with an advisor who can help you connect how you want to be remembered with a strategic estate plan.