Max and Sam were the best of friends and the worst of enemies. They were twin brothers if that tells you anything. Competitive to the bone and always trying to one up the other. Sam was Donald Trump to the tee minus the bad part over. Max was part Robin Hood, part Rick Warren, with a whole lot of Billy Graham mixed in.
Both in their mid 50s they were extremely successful from a worldly perspective. Sam raked in $8.5 million a year in his import/export business while Max trumped him making $10 million per year in book sales, royalties, speaking fees, and licensing agreements.
Max was like Mother Theresa through and through. He couldn’t see using more than he needed to live on so he became a reverse tither – living on 10% and giving 90 percent away.
Sam, on the other hand, was a generous giver, but didn’t go to the same lengths of giving as his brother Max. He tithed (gave away at least ten percent annually) and also gave more, as he felt led. Sam was a big investor and entrepreneur.
What happens after they die?
Not too long ago, both lives ended prematurely during a tragic plane crash on the way to a family reunion. You should have seen all the people gathered for the memorial services. The streets lined with all of the lives they touched. It even made the headline news – from Fox News to Google to YouTube! They were everywhere!
Here is where the story gets interesting. Many assumed Max won the giving game. Not that we kept track, but being competitive brothers, they made a friendly bet in their early forties. Max vowed to give away more of his fortune than Sam. Sam claimed it was not possible. The prize? A ministry formulated in the name of the winning brother upon the death of one or both brothers.
Other than Max and Sam, Charles their lifelong CPA was the only other soul entrusted with knowledge of the secret wager. Charles kept track annually and reported back to each brother.
I’m sure Max smiled each year as he saw more and more of his income going to kingdom work. Truth be told, he far outpaced Sam while the two were alive. In fact, Max gave away nearly $56 million since the bet was made versus the $14 million Sam gave away. What looked like a clear victory for Max quickly turned to Sam’s favor when the story unfolded…
How could this be?
How was this even possible? Max gave 90 percent and Sam gave 10+ percent away per year. Max’s living gifts were 42 million dollars more!
Here’s how Sam won: Max gave 90 percent of his income away and spent most of the remaining 10 percent. His estate upon death was a modest $2 million of which was given away bringing his lifetime total to $58 million dollars.
Sam on the other hand gave away about 15-20 percent per year, lived on 20 percent and invested nearly 50 percent of his income after taxes. Sam’s estate including life insurance, real estate, investments, and business interests totaled well over $1 billion.
Fifty percent of Sam’s estate was given away immediately ($500 million) while the other $500 million was set up to give away 5% or $25 million per year for at least the following fifty years. Sam was thus able to keep giving even after he went home to heaven.
Though this story is fictitious, the principles are not only possible they are biblical!
Legacy Planning Tools
God has helped man create tools and strategies to multiply the blessings He provides. The challenge is getting enough people to pay attention. Not everyone will become a Donald Trump, but $50,000 here, a $100,000 there, a million over there. It all adds up!
I know some of us have children and grandchildren to consider, but my point is the body of Christ is missing the boat on some of the greatest opportunities available.
Take for example Martha, who before she met me was going to leave all of her estate to her wealthy sister or George who didn’t even have a will. His fortune was going to be fought over by distant relatives he never met. You see the Church often doesn’t want to be involved in the financial advice business so fortunes and estates are leaving the church and going into the hands of strangers who may or may not fund kingdom activities.
What if at least 10% of every church member’s estate went back to churches and ministries upon that member’s demise? Think churches and ministries would still be suffering financially?
My point is the body of Christ is missing the boat on some of the greatest legacy planning opportunities available. Over the next few weeks, we will be adding many more resources to help you focus on going from success to significance!