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Inheritance is hard to talk about

The night before my grandmother sold her estate, I got a call from the family. “The family heirlooms are going to disappear in a public sale. Can you drive there and get the best stuff before it goes?” So a friend and I drove through the night, arriving in the early morning to a crowd of peopl…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

The night before my grandmother sold her estate, I got a call from the family. “The family heirlooms are going to disappear in a public sale. Can you drive there and get the best stuff before it goes?”

So a friend and I drove through the night, arriving in the early morning to a crowd of people picking over the family belongings. We bought back some pieces of furniture – an old couch, a chest of drawers, a few other things.

“I didn’t think it was fair to the family to distribute it all,” Grandma said. “How would I know what to give to who?”

Inheritance – we don’t talk about it much. For many of us, it’s a mysterious, nebulous thing. If you’re a young person, it’s pretty much beyond your ability to control. Raise the subject and you may appear greedy or presumptuous. If you’re an older person, you may think about the subject a lot, but feel reticent to talk about it. Arouse expectation in your heirs and their sense of entitlement may grow and sap their work-ethic. Better to keep it a surprise than risk its curse.

Mostly we see it done poorly in the Bible. Esau’s greed prefigured that of the prodigal son. Both dishonored their parents and suffered the consequences. Stuff got in the way of relationship and produced the bitter fruit of family strife.

There is a sacred transaction that occurs between one generation and the next, but it has to do with the spiritual, not the physical inheritance. Moses led the children of Israel to the Promised Land, but it was the freedom that land represented, that was significant, not the property itself.

We all stand to receive something, whether good or evil, from our parents. And we in turn will leave something to our own kids. It may be hard to talk about, but the spiritual exchange needs more intentionality.

What spiritual inheritance did you receive or do you expect to receive? What inheritance do you want to leave behind? Who do you want to leave it to? We should talk.

Comments (3)

  • Hey Seth great post! I have thought a lot about spiritual inheritance lately, especially what does it take to create environments in the body of Christ where spiritual parents can pass on an inheritance to spiritual children? I recently did a funeral for my grandfather. I had the opportunity to travel to the gravesides of several of my ancestors; each story of their lives was more dysfunctional than the next. It wrecked me; the inheritance that has been passed down to me has been dysfunction and spiritual deadness. I have a deep desire to be a cycle breaker for my family, even more so in a spiritual passing on of inheritances from one generation to the next in the Kingdom. But I find myself still longing and seeking an inheritance of my own, and the lack of spiritual parents who know how to initiate others into their inheritance in the kingdom. What do you see as keys to passing on an inheritance that is so desperately hungered for by the next generations? Or even more what about those that desire to find their Kingdom inheritance but lack the spiritual parents to initiate them?

    Blessings!

  • I want to give my daughter the inheritance of faith in God her Father that is so real and deep it is walked out every day in a tangible way. I don’t want to show her an intellectual belief that has no real application in life.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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