What’s the one thing you would most like to leave to your children and grandchildren when you are gone?If money was the first thing that came to your mind, that’s understandable. Most of us have been taught to think that way. But it is also a signal that you may need to do some serious, sober thinking about what is most valuable to you and to your family.
That’s the message of a new film from Fox Faith Movies. The Ultimate Gift tells the story of the wealthy Red Stevens, played by Oscar-nominee James Garner, and his grandson, Jason. Most of Red’s children turned out just like many wealthy families do: spoiled, greedy, and selfish. The tragedy is that Red Stevens himself was a good and selfless man, but he was so busy providing for his family’s physical needs that he failed to teach them the values that mattered most to him.
The film starts with Red’s funeral, but it is far from the end of the story. Before his death, he had resolved to make one last effort to help a family member find redemption and purpose. To the rest of his family, Red leaves money and businesses; to his grandson, he leaves a set of instructions on a DVD that he recorded before his death.
On the first recording, Red explains to Jason what money without values does to people. “How can I leave you something and not ruin you?” he asks. The solution: To earn his inheritance, Jason has to perform a series of tasks – or “gifts,” as his grandfather calls them – that will teach him the value of hard work, friendship, dreams, and all of the other things that the younger man’s life has been too long without. Only by learning to work, sacrifice, and share does Jason learn that his real inheritance is far more valuable than money.
Senior editor Alan Farnham of Forbes magazine calls the film “a witty, winning explication of how – as today’s financial planners like to say – you can ‘leave your legacy’ successfully.” Jim Stovall, author of the book on which the film is based, is even offering ideas and products on his website, TheUltimateGift.com, to teach parents how to connect with their kids and teach them their values.
If leaving your legacy is something you think you might need to learn more about, I urge you to see this film and take your family – because the sad fact is that, even among Christians, there are far too many “Red Stevenses” out there: good people who, for one reason or another, neglect to give their kids a true understanding of faith and how to practice it in everyday life. Then we sit back and complain that the younger generation has no values. How can they if we did not pass them along?
Of course living a good life for our kids to see is important, but as the film shows, it’s not enough. We also have to explain to our families, every chance we get, exactly why we live our lives that way, if we want them to understand, that is, and live according to a Christian worldview.
If you think you have waited too long to teach these lessons to your family, don’t give up before you start. As The Ultimate Gift demonstrates, it is never too late to leave a real legacy.
It will look like this: Leaving a Real Legacy – The Ultimate Gift