Written by Judy Hubbard Hulsey, Private Wealth Advisor in Ronald Blue Trust’s Orlando, Florida office
Have you heard of “Gen 4”? No, not Genesis 4, but Generation 4?
If you pick up any business periodical, eventually you will see an article with the abbreviations “Gen 2” and “Gen 3.” The etymology comes from the concept of a multi-generational legacy. It’s when a family member creates wealth and wants to transfer it to the second and third generations. But what and who is “Gen 4,” and how do generational legacies apply to the covenant of God?
The Fourth Generation
When I think about generational legacies, I think about two different families: Abraham (Gen 1), Isaac (Gen2), Jacob (Gen 3), and Joseph (Gen 4). I also think about my own family, specifically my Great-Grandmother Hubbard.
Looking at the generations from Abraham to Isaac and Jacob, we see that his wealth was passed down from Abraham through Jacob, but so was their dysfunction and sin. Abraham had a tendency to lie, Isaac showed favoritism, Jacob was deceptive, and Joseph could be braggadocious (he loved his new coat). The examples of the biblical patriarchs may indicate that while wealth can be inherited, wisdom is not always correctly passed down with it.
This reminds me of my Great-Grandmother Hubbard and her wealth’s impact on our family. She was a true matriarch with her generational legacy in mind. Known for her keen business acumen, she built her wealth by accumulating vast landholdings and eventually came to own the general store and the bank in her small, rural town. Even on the day of her death at age 82, she was out measuring land to buy.
Unfortunately, with the passing of my great-grandmother, the loss of her wealth came more quickly than anyone could have imagined. Her estate was large enough to last a lifetime for Gen 2 and Gen 3. However, just 10 years after her passing, almost all the money and assets accumulated over the course of her lifetime was gone.
How could this loss happen so quickly? The reason is that the wisdom she had was not also passed down with her wealth. She left it to family members who were not ready for the responsibility or maturity to handle that amount of money.
The loss of wealth at the hands of my father brought tremendous pain to my family. The conversations about the worries of money were a constant theme in our home. Thus, for decades an unhealthy pattern began for me: I would be constantly fearful about money in my own life. Fortunately, I took a Bible study on finances that began to set me free from the fear of lack of money, and after many years, I began to experience peace.
A Generation Redeemed
I am Gen 4 in my family line from my Grandma Hubbard. I lived with the consequences of my father’s financial decisions, but God wanted to redeem my life and my relationship with money. Joel 2:25 became especially meaningful to me: “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” Through my experience, God prepared me for a career of helping others with their money and their legacy.
Wealth transferred to future generations without the necessary wisdom to manage and steward that wealth can have negative implications for generations to come. I speak up now for Gen 4, because too frequently I see families err on the side of giving their children and grandchildren too much, too soon. Just like my great-grandmother did in giving my father too much, too soon. Truthfully, wealth transferred without wisdom can destroy a family for multiple generations, so the stakes are high. Wealthy parents may think that they are passing down a blessing to their children and grandchildren, but it can become a curse without wisdom.
The good news is that we can grow and change with this in view, no matter what we or our families have been through. James 1:2-4 has become my mantra: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
At Ronald Blue Trust, we believe that wealth transferred to future generations without the necessary wisdom to manage and steward that wealth can have generational implications. Estate Planning is a practice that includes building an estate during your lifetime with a goal of ensuring that the assets in your estate are stewarded in a manner that meets your goals and objectives and will be passed to your beneficiaries in a thoughtful way. Ronald Blue Trust advisors guide and assist clients in creating a strategy for their estate and legacy plan that is designed to empower subsequent generations and reflect their values and principles. We apply technical expertise and biblical wisdom to help clients make wise financial decisions to experience clarity and confidence and leave a lasting legacy.
If you need assistance and would like to talk to a Ronald Blue Trust advisor, please contact us at 800.987.2987 or email [email protected].
Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.