Dawn Franks has significantly impacted my thinking (and acting) about the ideas of legacy and generosity. When she asked me to consider writing some personal thoughts about these things, I saw it as a great opportunity for reflection.
The concept of “legacy” always seemed intimidating, reserved for people with greater resources and position in life. But then I realized that we all have values, beliefs, and commitments that we want to pass on to others. We all want and need to leave a legacy.
Much of what I believe and practice around giving, and generosity came from my parents, who were people of very limited means but strong values. They did not have much to give financially, but they were incredibly generous with their time and sharing what they had. I learned the concept of “tithing” from them at a very young age and have practiced it my whole life. Their example of weekly sacrificial giving was formative for me, and I have never wavered from that. I wanted my children to see us giving to the church each week and to many other causes.
Like many, my giving to our church and elsewhere is best done with appreciated stock and other assets. But I’m committed to putting another check in the offering plate each week as a demonstration to my children, grandchildren, and others to emphasize the importance of making a statement about giving to something we believe in.
Thanks to a column from Dawn that I read a few years ago, we have begun to challenge our five grandchildren (ages 5-18) to intentionally think about giving to others. Each year we ask them to direct a portion of OUR giving by choosing a cause, organization, or movement they think we should support. They must research, evaluate, and justify why they chose this mission. Their choices each year are fascinating reflecting their concerns and compassion about needs locally and worldwide.
Reflecting on what I learned about the importance of giving our time—a most precious resource—has greatly impacted what I do with these important years of “retirement.” I was on a flight to Europe the year before I retired and decided to take a shot at writing down what I thought would be my mission for this new season of life. The result was incredibly basic and simple:
“To serve the poor and oppressed around the world in the name of Jesus.”
Among many other things, this led me to accept a volunteer role as Board Chair of a fledgling organization reaching out to 2,000 children and schools in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya—the poorest of the poor. It’s been over ten years now that I have led Kijabe Children’s Education Fund (KCEFund.org). Annual trips to Africa, weekly or daily calls and texts to Kenya, laboring over new programs/strategies, and confronting problems and challenges; the work takes much of my time—and time is my most valued asset. But it is the most rewarding thing I do. It gives me tremendous hope in passing on a LEGACY of caring, compassion, and commitment. We serve over 2000 children yearly, and each deserves our love and sacrifice. We give financially, of course, but our greatest gift is our time.
I reflect on watching my dad, in his retirement years, do what he felt called to do driving widows to medical appointments. He had limited resources but served with a great sense of love and duty.
My hope and prayer are that I, too, leave a legacy of caring, compassion, and commitment to our children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors, and fellow church members.
What greater legacy can any one of us leave? What greater way to impact and find true meaning in our lives!
Craig Hammon, President, Kijabe Children’s Education Fund, www.KCEFund.org
Email Craig at: email@example.com
Check out Dawn’s latest book, The Gift of Giving. Let it guide you step-by-step in leaving your greatest legacy!