What is it with Warren Buffett? One of the world’s wealthiest men has decided to give most of his money to charity, rather than to his kids? What is he doing? Isn’t than “un-American?” According to recent reports, we are at the front end of the greatest wealth transfer in history. In the next three or four decades, an estimated $30 trillion (yes, that’s trillion with a “t”) will change hands. Isn’t this the time when the recipients of those dollars should be planning lavish parties?
Apparently not, according to Buffett. He is quoted as saying, "My family won't receive huge amounts of my net worth. That doesn't mean they'll get nothing. My children have already received some money from me and Susie and will receive more. I still believe in the philosophy ... that a very rich person should leave his kids enough to do anything but not enough to do nothing.” Buffett is so strong on the idea of giving wealth away to meet the needs of the planet that he already gave tidy sums to his children so that they could give the money on to charity. One of his daughters took the cash from her dad and used it to attract other donors, making an even larger dent in some of the needs that pique her interest.
This all begs the question, “Just what is Mr. Buffett leaving his children, if it isn’t that much of his money?” Could it be that he understands something many of us easily forget…that the most important inheritance we leave behind is not money, but a piece of ourselves? The Buffett children and grandchildren certainly know something about Mr. Buffett’s wealth, but they have been learning something deeper from dad/grandpa. They have watched him make all sorts of choices about the way he lives his life. He and his wife have stayed in the house they bought decades ago, even though they could afford castles and mansions on every continent. They have chosen to stay in Omaha, Nebraska, rather than live in a city known for celebrities and parties and power-brokers. When they are gone, it’s probable that they will be missed for their wisdom and their love, rather than for their money.
This is quite personal to me. My dad has been gone over 25 years. Though he never made a lot, the last years of his life included some financial decisions designed to take care of our mom for as long as she lives. Mom will be 90 next year. Sometimes we wonder if the small amount she has left will be enough, but we don’t really worry about it. You see, our parents gave us a MUCH GREATER INHERITANCE than the wealth of this world. They taught us to take care of business, work hard, manage carefully and…most of all…to trust God. Jesus said it best: "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33 New Living Translation)
This post, however, is a about something far more important than whether our greatest inheritance is our family’s money or our family themselves. You see, one of the best gifts we will ever receive is that of becoming part of God’s family. We get a whole new set of relationships. God the Father becomes our “Daddy” (literal translation of “Abba”), Jesus becomes our Friend (closer than a brother!) and the Holy Spirit takes us residence inside us. We are no longer orphans and we have an inheritance beyond words!
That inheritance is one of the biggest reasons we are “Designed for Joy!” We pick up Part 2 of the series this weekend at Stone Ridge Church. Our worship services last weekend were over the top with joyful expressions of praise…I hope you can be with us this week. Can’t make it? Catch the podcast!