Click below to listen to Episode 76 – Inheritolatry

Inheritolatry

Learn about the 4 biblical principles of inheritance.

Bob and guest, Jim Wise, discuss the term that Jim coined called “inheritolatry”. Inheritolatry is the decision to leave an abundance of financial resources to the next generation without regard to financial responsibility, spiritual commitment, or the size of the estate. The typical American way of inheritance is dividing it equally among our heirs, but is it biblical?

The Bible has a lot to say about inheritance and it’s not always in the way WE THINK we should pass an inheritance to our heirs. Bob and Jim discuss four biblical principles of inheritance for a Christian that encourage them to align their estate plans with His wisdom and commit part of their excess wealth to completing the work of the Great Commission.

GUEST: Jim Wise, CFP®, CAP®, ChFC®, CLU®, CKA®, CWS®
HOSTED BY: Bob Barber, CWS®, CKA®

Mentioned In This Episode

Christian Financial Advisors
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Bob Barber, CWS®, CKA®
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Jim Wise
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Inheritolatry
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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

[INTRODUCTION]

Welcome to “Christian Financial Perspectives”, where you’re invited to gain insight, wisdom and knowledge about how Christians integrate their faith, life and finances with a Biblical Worldview. Here’s your host Christian Investment Advisor, Financial Planner, and Coach Bob Barber.

[EPISODE]

Bob:
Yeah, it’s great. It is beautiful. Welcome to today’s podcast where I’m coming to you from my office. I have an office out in the country on 17 acres. It looks out over the beautiful Texas Hill country, so I’m looking over it right now.

Jim:
Oh nice. That’s great.

Bob:
Yeah, it’s great. It is beautiful. We’re going to be talking about inheritolatry. Jim, did I say that right?

Jim:
You did indeed, yes.

Bob:
Man. That’s a hard word. You heard me right. It’s inheritolatry. And I first heard about this term inheritolatry a few years ago when it was a theme of a Kingdom Advisors monthly study group with Jim Wise that I’ve invited to be a guest on today’s podcast. And y’all hear me talking all the time about Kingdom Advisors and I’m a Certified Kingdom Advisor and so is Jim. So I found this inheritolatry to really be a fascinating topic on inheritance that I’ve never heard spoken of in this way. And my guest, Jim Wise, that’s going to be on with me today, he’s a senior partner and senior wealth advisor, private wealth division of Ronald Blue Trust. And y’all know that I’ve had Ron Blue also on my podcast. I had him, I think it was about a month and a half ago, is when we had Ron. He was so great. He’s always hard to hold a candle to, Jim. Ron is so good. But Jim also serves as the company’s director of ministry services and listen to all these certifications. It just goes to show how long you’ve been in the business, by the way.

Bob:
He’s been in the business 35 years. He’s a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy, Certified Wealth Strategist® – so am I – a Certified Kingdom Advisor® – I’m one of those too – a Chartered Financial Consultant, and Chartered Life Underwriter. When do you have time, Jim, to keep up with all the continuing education for that.

Jim:
Thankfully they overlap. So one batch of continuing ed usually satisfies all of them. Otherwise there is no possible way I would want that many certifications.

Bob:
So Jim provides major donor development training for the leaders of over 1000 ministries. That’s a lot of ministries and frequently teaches for churches and faith based organizations including Kingdom Advisors, Christian Leadership Alliance, and the National Christian Foundation. So Jim, thank you for taking time out. Welcome to Christian Financial Perspectives.

Jim:
Thanks so much for inviting me. Bob, it’s really great to be with you.

Bob:
Is this a term you came up with, by the way? This inheritolatry?

Jim:
Yeah, it’s, it’s a word that I made it up because I was trying to come up with something that characterized or described what I think is becoming a, a significant issue in our culture and it simply refers to the idolatry of inheritance. So it is difficult for many of us to say, but inherit olive tree if we just think in terms of idolatry of inheritance. That’s the concept that I think is becoming a problem. And what’s interesting too is that inheritolatry is not just an issue for our generation, for the parents who are currently stewarding wealth, it’s eventually going to be transferred to our adult kids. That’s one form of inheritolatry, but it also applies to the next generation. So by way of definition, the simple way to think about it is the idolatry of inheritance, for folks that want a more detailed definition. Inheritolatry for Christian parents, I would define that as the commitment to leave significant financial resources to adult children without regard to their spiritual commitment, their financial need or responsibility, or even the size of the estate. For our adult children, inheritolatry could be defined as the unhealthy fixation on funds and property to be inherited. And it’s often characterized by a highly consumptive lifestyle, sometimes even a sense of material entitlement.

Bob:
Yeah. When I heard you the first time in the Bible study that you presented this, there were some verbal indicators that when we hear we can think of, okay, that’s inheritolatry for inheritance they’re thinking about. And as I was hearing some of those, I was thinking, man, my own kids have said some of those. It made me wonder, okay, now y’all need to be saving up for yourself. But so many of those that are going to inherit a big inheritance, they’re thinking, well I don’t need to save. I’m just going to get a lot from my parents. But so what are some of the verbal indicators that we need to be in tuned to of inheritolatry?

Jim:
Yeah, I think both for you and I and other Christians that get to counsel people in this area. We need to have our antenna up for these signs and also our clients or brothers and sisters in Christ all over the country. Cause when discussing this topic with Christians, a question that often comes up is, well, how do I tell if I’m struggling with it? Right. If I’m the parent and I’m doing my estate documents, I want to know if this is an issue for me. And they also typically want to know how do I tell if my kids are struggling. So, some of the verbal indicators are when we find ourselves saying something like this, well, I want my kids to have it easier than I did or I can’t allow my children to live below the standard of living they’ve become accustomed to. That will often happen when we send our kids out on their own instead of allowing them to struggle a little bit in the beginning and learn good financial habits and learn to provide for themselves and their families. The parents will oftentimes continue to supplement the kids’ income because we want them to maintain a certain standard of living oftentimes that they’re not able to afford themselves. Parents might make comments like my primary estate planning goal is to make sure that my kids are really well provided for. And one that you will occasionally hear when you’re having the discussion about the inheritolatry principles is especially if there is a discussion about leaving money to the kingdom and reducing the amount that goes to the kids or doing something that is unequal. “Oh, I could never do that. My children would be very upset.” Almost the sense as if it really all belongs to the kids and they’re the only ones that I have to answer to. So these are some of the types of things, verbal indicators, things that we or folks that we know might say that would give an indication that inheritolatry is a potential problem.

Bob:
Jim, I think you just about described a lot of us by the way. All of us nearly. And it’s interesting what you said in the beginning. We want our kids to have it easier than I had it, but yet hardship is what teaches us life’s lessons. I mean, I look at wisdom, it’s from my mistakes that have taught me that wisdom over time and reading God’s word, and I want my kids to be well provided for. Well, just how well do they need to be provided for is some of the things I’m thinking of.

Jim:
Amen. And we probably help them more by passing down a knowledge of God’s Word and God’s financial principles and by passing down kind of the social qualities of a solid work ethic and a sense of responsibility. Because you’re right, it is typically, it’s going through struggles financially, especially when we’re starting out and developing the financial habits that have made our generation fairly successful financially. It doesn’t make any sense for me to then rob my kids of the very valuable experiences that I’ve had and application of God’s wisdom to my own finances that has allowed us to be in a position where we’re going to be passing some wealth down. But yeah, it’s really important that if we want to help our kids, the first thing we need to do is pass down biblical wisdom or what we call spiritual capital and social capital, then they’ll be able to handle whatever financial capital we’ve passed along long later.

Bob:
I always say, if they don’t have wisdom, don’t pass the money to them, because the opposite of what will happen if they don’t have that wisdom, you just pass a bunch of money, it’s going to make it worse, which I guess kind of takes us into, you had these practical indicators of inheritolatry that I noticed you had a list and I’d looked at that and I said, man, that speaks right into what I see and hear all the time. So, share some of those practical indicators of inheritolatry that we need to be looking for.

Jim:
Yeah. Well, probably the first and most common is when our estate plan passes down an equal share of the estate to our adult children with a history of poor financial decisions, maybe irresponsible spending patterns, even in some cases addictive or destructive behavioral patterns. I’ve seen estrangement from the parents, a sense of material entitlement. Sometimes, unfortunately, this grieves our hearts, but sometimes our adult kids have completely abandoned or rejected the Christian faith. Living a consumptive lifestyle, not generous, just all of the things that we’ve tried to model and pass down to the kids. If Laurie and I have a plan in place that would contemplate passing down an equal share to each of the kids, even knowing that maybe one of the kids or a couple of them have this type of a history, that’s probably a sign that we’re struggling with inheritolatry. And then if at a basic level, if our wealth transfer plan, if our estate plan, was not developed using the same biblical stewardship and generosity principles that we’ve been trying to apply to our day to day finances. In other words, most Christians have some understanding of biblical stewardship and really seek to apply biblical truth to the day to day management of our finances. But oftentimes, when it comes to the estate planning process, there is no looking to biblical truth or biblical wisdom. And a lot of times Christians’ estate plan will not look anything like the decisions they’re making day to day. So if the plan was developed without consulting biblical stewardship principles, even though we tried to do that in day to day life, that’s a sign of inheritolatry. And probably the most painful one, I would say that I’ve observed, is when we as parents are far more concerned about justifying our wealth transfer decision to the kids than we are giving an account to the Lord whose money it is. That’s probably a practical sign of inheritolatry.

Bob:
Well, those conversations are just not talked about in an estate planning attorney’s office – what you’re mentioning.

Jim:
Yeah, I think you’re right. And one reason I should think is because this is not an easy discussion. I mean, what, what you and I get to do for a living and the folks that we get to serve, in a sense, we’ve been invited into this type of a discussion. Money is a very intimate thing. It’s an intimate part of people’s lives, and we get to have conversations with folks about money that they may not be even able to talk about with anybody else. But a lot of times Christian financial professionals, because this can be a difficult discussion, instead of loving the folks we get to serve enough to walk through it with them, a lot of times we just kind of take the easy path out and not bring it up at all. And honestly, that’s another evidence of inheritolatry for our generation as parents. As soon as we start thinking about it and as soon as you start walking through the biblical principles, some of the things are really challenging. They’re really difficult to kind of work through in our own family. And I’m afraid the default has become, rather than have this difficult discussion or take this difficult situation with one of my kids to the Lord in prayer, I’ll just leave it alone. The estate attorney doesn’t bring it up. I’ll just divide it equally and kind of let them worry about it. But this is a responsibility we have before the Lord because it is not our money that we’re making decisions with. It’s his.

Bob:
Yeah. Psalms 24:1 is, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” And if we really believe that, and I know that the Bible speaks to us on every issue, including inheritance. When, we look at what the Bible says about inheritance, it’s not always in the way that we think we should pass an inheritance on to our heirs. I know that you’ve come up with four biblical principles of inheritance for a Christian. It’s not the way we think. So, with these four principles, before we dive into them, maybe you could give us a quick overview of the process you went through to develop this biblical perspective on inheritance and then let’s start sharing those four principles you identified in the Bible.

Jim:
Yeah, so the starting point for me, I knew that the Bible addressed the issue and I tried to find a Christian book or a set of Christian books or a Bible study on this topic that had basically gone through the entirety of scripture and pulled out the principles directly from God’s Word. Being unable to find something like that I basically just started in my own daily devotions. I spent, I think it was a couple of months by the time I finished it, but I went through the entire Bible. I just did a word search using the word “inherit” and “inheritance”. And I created this word document and just pasted it over there – every single verse in the Bible that talked about inheritance. Then after I had pages and pages and pages of verses, then I started going through and trying to kind of characterize or categorize them. The first thing that was obvious, probably not surprisingly, verses throughout scripture on inheritance, they divide pretty neatly into two specific categories. Most of the New Testament passages referring to inheritance or not talking about finances but rather to our inheritance in Christ, which is a glorious topic to study and to discuss. But if we want to have a discussion about how we should process our own wealth transfer process looking to the Old Testament, the majority of passages in the Old Testament deal specifically with money and possessions. They’re tied, for the most part, to the land inheritance that God provided to his people, Israel. So as I studied these particular passages, in other words, I separated out all of the passages that talk specifically about the type of inheritance that we are going to leave. The wealth that we accumulate money and possessions and property. As I went through all of those verses, that’s where four specific principles emerged just from observing how God handled Israel’s inheritance – principles that I believe are really helpful for Christians in every generation to make our own estate planning decisions. So the four principles, I’m sure we’ll go through these individually, but the four to summarize were inequality is permitted, requests are acceptable, limitations are prudent, and responsibility is required.

Bob:
So how many passages in God’s word speak about inheritance or inherit, as you put that word in, cause you said you put in inherit and then I guess you that took it to inheritance, but I’m just curious, how many passages did you end up looking at?

Jim:
That is a great question. I don’t remember what the total count was, but I do know that every single verse in the Bible that has either word in it ended up on the initial document. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t overlook anything, and that the principles that I derived came out of God’s Word as opposed to me bringing my own kind of thoughts or expectations to it.

Bob:
So, this principle number one is really interesting because this is one I’d never heard until I heard you the first time, and that inequality is permitted and that just really flies in the face nearly of what we would think. You know the old saying “that’s not fair”.

Jim:
That’s right.

Bob:
I’ve never heard that, but I know you’ve got biblical examples of this principle and how Christians today could apply it to their estate planning process. So, what do you mean by inequality is permitted when it comes to this subject?

Jim:
Boy, I think that this principal is helpful in that, as you pointed out, the default setting for inheritance in our current culture, is divide everything equally between all the kids without regard to financial need, how responsible they are with money, whether a large inheritance might actually have adverse consequences. In other words, it’s not fair. That’s kind of the American way or that’s become the mantra in estate planning. I can’t do anything other than that. And what’s interesting is when you look into God’s Word, you see something that’s really quite the opposite of that. From a biblical perspective, there were instances in which God not only allowed for unequal inheritance, but he actually commanded it. I love the way that Ron Blue puts it when he says “love your kids equally by treating them uniquely”. I’m not sure where the “it has to be equal in order to be fair” idea came from, but it definitely was not the Bible. So a couple of examples that are probably going to be familiar with most of the folks that are listening in. But if you think back in the Old Testament, which person in the family got a larger share of the inheritance than anyone else? The double portion was given to the oldest son. Now I’m not advocating for the oldest son getting a double portion. I probably would if I was the oldest son in my family. And Deuteronomy chapter 21, there’s the reference to the older son getting the double portion. We don’t know why that was, necessarily. What’s interesting is Israel had perfected the art of grumbling, but we never saw them grumble or complain about the double portion. God had instructed them that that’s how inheritance was to be done. It’s inherently unfair to the way that we think in our Western culture today. But that was just one example of God actually instructing that inheritance was to be done unequally. One that is directly relevant to our families today in Numbers chapter 26 when the land was actually starting to be allocated, the allocation was based on the size of the family. So it literally says to a larger family, give a larger portion and to a smaller family, give a smaller portion. That’s brilliant. We might even view that as common sense, and yet it’s inherently unequal. But when you step back and think about it, it makes perfect sense that a larger family might have greater financial needs than a smaller family. And the other one, again, this would not be a popular discussion in most American churches, but who was allowed to get an inheritance at all? In Old Testament Israel, the sons got the inheritance and the daughters did not. We think we understand why that was because it was expected the daughters would marry into families and their husbands would have an inheritance. Regardless, the point here is not to say we should be taking those principles for the governance of Israel in that day and applying double portion with the sons or daughters today. The whole point is to say there is never a time in scripture where we’re explicitly told that inheritance is to be done equally. But we’ve got three examples of where it was commanded to be done in a way that is unequal that most American Christians would consider unfair. The whole point is to say if we consider doing something other than every kid gets exactly the same amount, we’re on solid biblical ground. For example, let’s say one of my adult daughters is a highly successful surgeon, married to a highly successful surgeon, and they’ve chosen to remain childless. And then let’s say that my son is a teacher at a Christian school, has a fairly limited upside in terms of his income, is married to a stay at home mom, and they have six kids, one of which has special needs. Is it fair to say that these are two dramatically different sets of circumstances with entirely different financial needs? And I guess, is it not reasonable to take these different circumstances into account in the estate planning process?

Bob:
It absolutely is. I was going to give that same exact example. So keep going because yeah, in this case you look at the one with the six children teaching at the Christian school or maybe they’re a missionary, helping them more. Yeah.

Jim:
Yeah. It makes perfect sense. If we don’t even allow that to enter into the discussion because, in our American culture way of thinking, it wouldn’t be fair. We’re actually going against I think biblical wisdom and biblical instruction. It just makes sense that we ought to look at the situations, and it works the same way with some kids are really good at managing money. They’ve picked up what we’ve tried to teach them. They’re incredibly generous, and another of our kids might live a highly consumptive lifestyle, always be coming to us to bail them out of financial trouble. It’s a painful reality, but many of us have experienced that with our adult kids, and we might make a decision now, like in other words, I’ve seen many cases where Christians who had a child, who was just constantly in trouble financially because of overspending or just always borrowing and borrowing, not being able to pay it back. And eventually the parents might say, we’re enabling you. We’re not going to bail you out anymore. But that same set of parents in their estate documents are leaving that child the exact same portion of the estate at the exact same time as the other kids. And again, the point is not to say here’s what you ought to do. The point is to say you should feel completely free before God to say if it is wise and prudent to do something other than equal division, we’re on solid biblical ground because God did not ever instruct that it had to be divided equally between each of the adult children.

Bob:
It reminds me, as you were talking about this, we did a podcast about a year ago called “Sudden Wealth Syndrome”, and when they inherit that huge amount of wealth and if they don’t know how to handle a little, how are they going to handle more? Like the parable of the talents. And I can see in a discussion of these four principles, you could have hours and hours of discussion just on this first principle of “inequality is permitted”. Do you have many more to say about that before we go to that second principle?

Jim:
Nope. Think we’re ready to move on.

Bob:
Okay. So that second principle is “requests are acceptable”. Well, again, I’ve never thought about that. See, when I make these podcasts, I’m going, hey, I’m learning a lot from this myself. So, is this where you actually ask your kids for requests or what do you mean by requests are acceptable?

Jim:
Yeah. This one is interesting in that I’ve found that folks in our generation, Christian parents, will often actually get frustrated or upset with the adult kids if the kids ever bring up the estate plan, if they ever talk about their desire to inherit a particular piece of property. But reality is there are probably at least a couple items in every one of our estates that they might have really strong sentimental value to one of the kids, but no value at all to the others, or might have a piece of property that one of the adult kids is using and they really feel an attachment to and it’s part of the family legacy, but none of the other kids are interested in it at all. I’ve seen cases where there are items in the parents’ estate that none of the kids have any interest in. Yet, the parents hang on to them until they die so they can pass them down to the kids because they never asked the kids, do you have any interest in having this thing? It would be a blessing to the kids to simply dispose of those types of assets prior to death rather than passing them down and leaving the kids to deal with it. But a couple of biblical examples of inheritance requests being made – the first one that I came across was the trans Jordan tribes in Numbers chapter 32, but most of our listeners, I’m guessing, are very familiar with this passage, but they are getting ready to enter into the Promised Land and the boundaries of the Promised Land had already been kind of set apart for them. So, they knew what it was. But the trans Jordan tribes, two and a half tribes on the East side of the Jordan River, while they were camped there, they noticed that boy, the way that we live – our flocks and herds – this land is perfect for us. So, they had to go to the leaders and say, and I know that our Promised Land is supposed to be on the other side of the Jordan. We’re going to come in and fight and help take all that land. But if it’s all the same to you, when it’s done and we’re dividing up the property, we would sure love to have our inheritance over here. And Moses actually granted that request. He talked to God. God said, sure, that would be okay. So, a specific request was made that was particularly suitable for those two and a half tribes because of the way that they made their living. Another one of my favorites was Caleb’s land. When the land was being divided up, this comes up in Joshua chapter 14. He actually makes a reference back to something we see in Deuteronomy when the spies went into the land, and only Joshua and Caleb came back with a good report. But anyway, the land’s being divvied up. It’s being handed out. Caleb is presumably standing in line waiting for his, and pieces of land are gone. And he had his eye on a particular piece of land. So, he comes up to Joshua and he says, look, you were standing next to me when Moses made this promise because we gave a good report. He said, “This land that your feet are standing on is going to be your inheritance.” I’d sure like to have that piece of land. Caleb said, I’m still strong. I’ll go in, I’ll fight and I’ll take the land, but I want this particular piece. And that request was granted. So, requests are acceptable. It makes a lot of sense to have this discussion with the kids while we’re still alive ,and we can adjust our wills accordingly if needed. It’ll certainly simplify the estate administration process for the kids after we’re gone.

Bob:
All those examples. I’m reading the one year chronological Bible right now. Our heart church is doing that and every one of those I was like, yeah, just read that.

Jim:
Oh, that’s great.

Bob:
Yeah. So, the third principle is “limitations are prudent”. Now, I think you spoke a little bit about this, but you know from a biblical example, I think of the parable of the talents and if you’ve done a good job with a little, you could give more. Is that what you mean? Or what do you mean by that? Limitations are prudent and what are some biblical examples of that?

Jim:
Yeah, and I’d have to say, Bob, this is probably where the estate planning discussion often gets derailed because talking to our kids about who wants this piece of jewelry and who wants the china and is anybody interested in the cabin we have in the woods? That’s a much easier discussion than starting to talk about limiting inheritance. But basically, if we want to faithfully steward the resources God has entrusted to us, there may be instances where placing prudent limitations on inheritance is the wisest thing to do. I was actually well into this Bible study when this principle finally jumped out at me, and then I couldn’t believe I’d almost overlooked it because if you think about the Promised Land in general, God’s beloved nation, Israel, God’s dear possession, he carved out this land he had promised them much earlier that it was going to be theirs. The first thing God did when providing an inheritance for Israel was to establish clearly defined borders or limitations on the land despite the fact that God owns everything. I mean, when you step back and think about that as an inheritance principle – you referred to Psalm 24:1 before, and Psalm 50, as well, talks about the same thing. There are a lot of Bible verses that make clear to us that God owns everything. Every animal in the forest is mine. The cattle on a thousand hills, the earth is the Lord’s everything in it. God had at his disposal all of the land in all of the world. He could have just said, it’s yours. Take over the world.

Bob:
Yeah. The whole thing. Yeah, makes sense.

Jim:
And if you look on a map at the little sliver that is the Promise Land. If you’re looking at it on a map and you start to zoom out on the map, by time you’re looking at kind of that Asia and Europe area, I mean, it’s so small, you can barely even see it.

Jim:
Now, if God’s first decision was to look at all that he had to pass down and to limit the amount that he gave to Israel, then it seems like we might be instructed by the fact that God’s first decision about inheritance was to bring some limitations. I mean, the way that we typically think about it, it’s like, well, if I die with this largest estate, these were all excess resources, then all of that, everything we have, is going to get passed down. But that’s not the way that God did it. He passed down a limited amount to his beloved nation, Israel. And when you look at this in Joshua 13 to 19 where the land is actually being divided up and handed out to the different tribes, it was the same way for every family, big families, bigger piece, small family, smaller piece. But each tribe and clan received a limited, clearly defined piece of the land. So one of the most common ways that Christians will usually place limitations on inheritance is leaving some portion of the estate to God’s work. For example, our church or other faith-based ministries we support. In fact, the first question often asked in the estate planning process is how much to the kids and how much to the kingdom? But if we are going to pass down 100% of our estate to the kids, I know for me and Laurie, we feel like we better be absolutely certain that that is the reason God entrusted to us these excess resources, because our generation is holding, stewarding, so much excess wealth and we have to ask ourselves the question, “If God gave us more than we are ever going to need or use or spend or give away in this lifetime,” and that’s the definition of inheritance, right? Inherited resources are simply what was left over at death, meaning God entrusted them to us knowing we were not going to need them or use them. Was God’s intention for all of the excess to automatically be passed down to the next generation or was it possible that he had intended that some portion of that, and for some families they conclude that the majority of it, was intended to be pumped into the kingdom to complete the work of the great commission.

Bob:
I mean, I know that each one of these principles is going to speak to everyone differently, but to me this is one of the most powerful ones. And I really had no idea where you were going to go with this, but it makes so much sense now. And like you said, God could have given the entire world to the Israelites, but he gave them Israel and you’re right. When you pull back out, that’s just a little piece. It is so small, you can hardly see it when you look at it from the satellite. Man, that is powerful. Well, we got another principle here, and it’s the last of these four principles, which is “responsibility is required”. I can’t wait to hear some biblical examples on this.

Jim:
Of the four principles, this is by far the most difficult, oftentimes, for folks to work through themselves. And then if they make decisions that might be difficult decisions for any of the kids, to talk through it with the kids. But in the Bible, financial responsibility, what you and I would call faithful stewardship, is a requirement for being entrusted with greater resources and responsibility. And the opposite is also true, the lack of financial responsibility. In other words, being the unfaithful steward of God’s resources typically results in negative financial consequences. So let’s think about just 2 well known Bible examples. One was Israel inheriting the land and what we learned, in two places in particular, Leviticus 18 and Joshua 23, is a very strong warning, but basically what they were told is unrighteous, disobedient behavior equals lose inheritance. In both cases, God instructed Israel to say, it is your land. I’m giving you the land. You’re going to go in and you’re going to take it, but I’ve already given it to you. But when you enter the land, do not start repeating the detestable, sinful practices of the nations that were in there before you. That’s the reason I’m driving them out, and it’s the reason I’m giving it to you. And then a harsh warning where God says, if you do, if you go into the land and you start prostituting yourselves and you start picking up the same behaviors that they did, I will take you out of the land. In other words, you’re going to lose your inheritance. And if you carry that concept over into the New Testament, probably more familiar to all of us – you had pointed out the parable of the talents and also the parable of the 10 minus, which is very similar – but what happened to the unfaithful servant? It wasn’t just that the master said, oh man, I’m really sorry. You missed the blessing. I really wanted you to have the blessing of being faithful. It was, I mean, in the parable of the talents…

Bob:
He threw him out.

Jim:
Yeah, he threw him out, right, where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Bob:
Exactly.

Jim:
If you look at Jesus’ teaching and instruction throughout all four gospels, his harshest language was usually reserved for the Pharisees. But when you read the parable of the talents, you will not find a sterner warning generally for God’s people. I mean, this was very, very stern language that Jesus used, which seems to mean it’s a big deal. And again, if it was my money, if Lori and I owned anything, we’d be free to do what we want with it. But it’s not. The whole point of the parable of the talents is it’s not our money, and we’re accountable to somebody for what we do with it. So I need to say here because this is an incredibly difficult discussion. Any of us who are parents and maybe have two or three adult kids or more, many of us have seen a child go astray or a child that just makes a series of really, really poor financial decisions. I know this is difficult. And again, this is not trying to be prescriptive. Every one of us as followers of Christ and stewards of God’s money, we have to apply God’s wisdom to our own individual circumstances. But when you think about it from a biblical perspective, responsibility is required. In order to entrust a steward with additional resources to manage, that steward has to be demonstrating financial responsibility and faithful biblical stewardship in order to be entrusted with more. And it kind of scares me to think about if I have a child that I know is going to blow the money or worse. I mean if I’ve got a child who’s been struggling with addiction of some sort where money can actually be a danger, and then I make the decision, to drop a bunch of money on that particular child who has been irresponsible with money, with God’s money, it all belongs to him. That is not a loving thing to do and it’s not, I don’t think, a biblically obedient thing to do. So the point here, again, it’s not to be prescriptive. We have to look at our own families, our own situations. But the point is we need to take that into consideration when we’re deciding how much to leave each child and how and when they are to receive whatever portion we decide to leave to them. The point of identifying the biblical principles to consider in this wealth transfer process is to give us a roadmap for making the right decisions. That’s really the purpose of the four principles. Each of us now has a roadmap to walk through so that we can apply biblical wisdom and ask ourselves, based on what we know about our families and our circumstances – our adult children, how would God have us apply this biblical wisdom to our own estate planning process?

Bob:
Yeah. What he’s speaking of is the parable of the talents is over in Matthew 25:14-30. It’s a pretty long passage. I mean, there’s a lot of scriptures there, so I invite you to go read that. And another one I’m always talking about is in Luke 16 that he who is faithful in little things is faithful also in much. I would encourage you to go after the podcast today to look at those two passages in Matthew 25 and in Luke 16. I’ve talked to folks about a pre inheritance experienced, Jim, where they give some of their children some money now and go back three months and six months later and see how they did with that and what did they do with it. I just think that kind of goes into that responsibility of showing if you’re responsible with a little, you can be responsible with more.

Jim:
I’m glad you brought that up, Bob, because sometimes what we can do with our adult kids is, almost in a sense, write them off. So we kind of think, well, they were irresponsible in their twenties. They’re never going to figure it out. I tried to teach them. I tried to instruct them. And sometimes, we simply have not provided biblical instruction along the way. Number one, there can always still be a time where they can all of a sudden figure it out. Usually that’s not going to happen by us continually bailing them out. But we can continue trying to provide biblical instruction. Cause ideally, we want each of our kids to be a faithful steward so that they can receive a blessing of some level of inheritance. So, we should never write the kids off as if they’re never going to learn or they’re never going to figure it out. And we need to be committed to discipling our kids in this area as much as we can for their own good, for their own protection. Helping them understand what biblical truth looks like with regard to managing money. And I love your idea. It makes a lot of sense to kind of, in a sense, test the kids, but be able to observe where are they strong in their financial decision making and where may be some additional help needed. Because if they don’t manage well the smaller amounts as you said, it’s going to be a very hard decision for us to entrust them a much larger amount when we pass away.

Bob:
As I’ve been hearing all this, there’s so much here and where would a person or a couple go from here after hearing all about this and inheritolatry? I’m just trying to get that one right – inheritolatry. You know, we’ve heard a lot about this today and it seems like most attorneys that they never talk about these principles, they just focus on those documents, those estate planning documents. I know that Kingdom Advisors has given me a lot of that I can pass on. Is that where they start with some of those resources and you have some resources, I know, that we can share?

Jim:
Yeah, I think the a lot of the work that I’ve done in speaking or teaching on this topic has been directed to the advisor community – estate attorneys, CPA’s, financial advisors, like you and I – we’re often the ones that are engaged in the process with folks when they’re trying to make these decisions. For example, your listeners, folks that follow your podcast, they already know you. They’re familiar with you, and you’re a trained Kingdom Advisor. You understand the inheritolatry principles and how to apply them. So, the starting point for a Christian who really needs to look at updating their estate plan, or just kind of walk through this process, view their current estate plan through the lens of this biblical wisdom, and they need help doing it. For your listeners, obviously you’re the first person that they ought to go to, and for folks that live in other cities and that really prefer to have somebody local, go to the Kingdom Advisor website and see if you can’t find a Certified Kingdom Advisor in your own area. All Kingdom Advisors have access to this training and this information, so that’s a good place to start. And then obviously, the reason I decided to write the book on this topic was that I couldn’t find any resources out there in the marketplace that had gone through this specific process of just going through the entirety of God’s Word and saying what’s everything that God says on the topic and then distilling it down to a handful of actionable principles that we can use.

Bob:
Tell us the name of that book again. What’s it called?

Jim:
It’s called “Inheritolatry: The Final Obstacle to Completing the Great Commission”, and it’s available through either Xulon Press directly or any of the major online distributors, book distributors carry it or Christian bookstores. But the reason for the second half of the title, the final obstacle to completing the great commission and that was just based on research I’ve done that showed that this generation of God’s people, just in the American church, is stewarding wealth that is well in excess of what it will take to complete the work of the great commission, which is a work that all Christians agree that’s what God has called us to. So, I’ve been kind of struggling with this burden for the last several years since I started doing the research that if God has entrusted our generation in the American church with so much more money than we’re ever going to need or use in this lifetime, a tremendous amount of money is going to be passed to somebody at some point. It’s hard for me to imagine, knowing that we all as Christians agree that the great commission is the work that we are called to, that it might not be God’s intention, that some piece of these vast excess resources were given to us specifically so that we could pump them into the kingdom and expand the reach of the gospel, make God’s name and fame known throughout the rest of the world in all the places that have not yet been reached.

Bob:
And I mean, we’re probably talking literally trillions of dollars.

Jim:
Amen. Yeah. Trillions as far as what will be passed down, and well under a hundred billion, by my account, from the research I’ve done as far as what will be needed, to reach all of the remaining unreached, unengaged people groups and make disciples in all of those areas. So, it’s pretty exciting for folks in our industry. They get to council God’s people, especially work with God’s people who are generous and who are investing actively in the work of the great commission and seeing it accomplished. It’s wonderful to contemplate the opportunity we have in our generation to fund seeing that work completed.

Bob:
So if Christians just were to tithe even just 10% of the trillions that’s going to be passed down to the next generation, there’s enough money there?

Jim:
Yes. According to the research I did there, that probably would be five times more than is needed to finish the work of the great commission. Now, the great commission is make disciples and not converts. So my calculations were based not only on getting the gospel to people, but having disciple making presences and having God’s word translated into the heart language of each individual people group. And still, the largest number I could come up with to finish that work was $63 billion. And that’s in comparison with roughly 5 trillion that’s currently being stewarded by God’s most faithful. I mean, faithful followers of Christ who believe it’s God’s money who believe in finishing the great commission. So he has entrusted to us significantly more than is going to be needed to finish the work that we all agree he has called us to do.

Bob:
Well, I think that’s a good one to end this podcast on is look at your estate plan. To my listeners, I’m saying look at it and if you don’t have anything in there for your church and for different ministries, I urge you to go to God’s Word, be in prayer about leaving 10, 15, 20, 25% to the kingdom. Our children know that that’s what Rachael and I are doing, and you know what? They’re fine with it, and we’ve told them so. You’d be surprised that your kids would be very happy to hear that, especially if they love the Lord. Boy, Jim, this has been fun. Thank you for taking time out of your day to tell us about inheritolatry. So, someone can just go on line and put in that inherit like dash O-L-A-T-R-Y and they’ll be able to find your book.

Jim:
That is correct. Yeah, it’ll come up right away.

Bob:
All right. You always know that you can call me if you want information on this. If you’re like, right now I’m driving around and I’m not going to get on the internet, but you can call me and I’ll get you this book called (830) 609-6986 if you’re listening to this during the day or go to our website ciswealth.com and email us at info@ciswealth.com, and we’ll get you out one of these. We’re here to help you honor God with your estate plan and how you’re going to pass the assets that he’s entrusted with you to those next generations. That’s all for today. Thank you for listening.

Jim:
Amen. Thanks Bob.

[CONCLUSION]

That’s all for now. We invite you to listen to all of our past episodes covering many financial topics from a Christian Perspective. To make sure you don’t miss any of Bob’s upcoming episodes you can subscribe to Christian Financial Perspectives on iTunes, Google Play Music, Spotify, or Stitcher. To learn more about integrating your faith with your finances, visit ciswealth.com or call 830-609-6986.

[DISCLOSURES]

Comments from today’s show are for informational purposes only and not to be considered investment advice or recommendations to buy or sell any company that may have been mentioned or discussed. The opinions expressed are solely those of the host, Bob Barber and his guests. Bob does not provide tax advice and encourages you to seek guidance from a tax professional. Investment advisory services offered through Christian Investment Advisors Inc. DBA Christian Financial Advisors, a registered investment advisor.