The following scenario repeats in our media outlets — sharing the same sad story, but with different characters each time. Every few years, our newsfeeds are bombarded with the all-too-familiar report of another child of inherited wealth and privilege not prospering with their sudden inheritance. Many, after losing all within a short period of time, find themselves in severe and nearly irreparable financial debt.
Those of us without large trust funds shake our heads and say, “Wow, what a waste,” somehow believing we would do so much more if afforded the same opportunity. Because this situation frequently occurs, many have come to see inheritance of great wealth in a disparaging light.
Some of the superwealthy agree that leaving all of their wealth to their children is not necessarily a good idea. In fact, many of today’s notable billionaires are choosing to distribute their wealth in multifaceted strategies rather than leave it all to their children. One billionaire of considerable fame — Warren Buffett — wrote in a letter to the Gates Foundation, “I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing.”
I would like to propose that there is a blessing one can give to their children that stretches beyond the benefits of financial inheritance. The Genesis account of Jacob blessing his 12 sons just prior to his death intrigues me, especially the blessing of Joseph (Chapter 49).
Filled with beautiful description, my mind’s ear can nearly hear the poetic, faith-filled blessing the aged Jacob delivered to his beloved son:
“Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb. Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers. (Genesis 49:22-26 NIV)
As Jacob prayed this, he was not only speaking of Joseph’s history, he was also proclaiming what Jacob’s future would hold. As fathers, this is a pattern to form our prayers for our own children today. We should bless our children with the words of our mouth: The words we speak to them, over them, and to God about them will have more impact on their lives than we could ever imagine.
Jacob, understanding this spiritual concept, prayed that Joseph would be productive, strong and blessed by the Almighty God; he prayed that blessings would flow directly to Joseph; he prayed for blessings from above, below and within; and then, to substantiate the importance of these proclamations, Jacob concluded by stating that the father’s blessings are greater than any other blessings. Jacob knew the power of a father’s blessing from his own father’s and grandfather’s model: As each of his ancestors blessed the next generation, they heaped God’s favor and direction upon their children. Abraham spoke his blessing to Isaac; Isaac spoke a blessing to his son, Jacob; and now we find Jacob passing it on to Joseph.
This Father’s Day, let us, the dads, give a gift to our dear children. Let Father’s Day 2016 be about praying a blessing on our children and speaking life-giving words into their world. Pray that they will be productive and experience the joy and satisfaction of earning and producing for themselves. Pray that they will be strong in mind, body and spirit — stronger than the challenges they will face, with strength that allows them to make worthy decisions and persevere.
Finally, pray that our children will live the kind of life that draws blessings to them; namely, a life of giving and showing honor to others that allows the blessings of God to flow upon them. I can think of no greater Father’s Day gift than that our children, both yours and mine, experience God’s blessings, flowing from every direction into their lives. Don’t wait until death to bless your children — go ahead and start today.
• Pastor Steve Warman and his wife Renee have been lead pastors for 14 years at The Apostolic Church of Auburn Hills in Michigan (theapostolicchurch.com). He is author of “The Second Try: Your Best is Yet to Come” and “Walking on Dragons: Your Authority Over Adversity.” They have four children.