The seeds of the gospel were planted in my life by a godly grandmother. From as early as I can remember my Gram Rogers was always witnessing to us, through her life, actions, and words.
I did not have the privilege, as some do, of growing up in a Christian family. Both of my parents had bad experiences with “religion” in their lives while growing up. They didn’t want to have anything to do with it. Other than that, my family was a pretty typical American family. My Dad taught us honesty, good study skills, a good work ethic, and to have a vision for self-employment. But my parents didn’t teach me about Christ — because they didn’t know Him. Nevertheless, they were great parents.
A Legacy of Stewardship and Generosity
Gram Rogers had to raise her children in a very difficult situation with an abusive husband and father-in-law who beat her children and beat her when she tried to stop them. My dad left home at 12 to get away from the abuse, and he worked for a dollar a day and room and board. He ultimately went on to work 2-3 jobs while putting himself through school to make a better life for us than what he and my Mom had growing up.
My grandmother worked hard to provide for her family as a single parent when single parents weren’t that common. Gram Rogers was a very successful Avon lady and real estate agent. People loved her and loved doing business with her. However, in spite of her success, she never had much to show for it. She was a good steward and tried to live frugally as many people who lived through the Great Depression did.
She would take us for rides where she would bring food or other necessities to those in need, always sharing the joy of Christ with them. With her sales ability, she probably could have been rich in this world’s goods, but she chose to be poor in order to give to meet the needs of others — in Jesus’ name!
I remember one June she gave my brother and me our first Bibles — on her birthday! In that Bible she wrote, “Read Psalm 46:1.” It said, “God is our Refuge & Strength, a very present help in trouble.” I was 13 years old at the time. Before I even knew Christ as my Lord and Savior, I had learned stewardship and generosity because it was modeled for me by my Gram Rogers, and I learned that God was generous to all of us!
A Legacy of Faith
Because of Gram Rogers, I had an intimate knowledge that God is who He said He is; that Jesus is the Son of God, that the Bible is the Word of God; and that all the things taught in it were true.
Even when I started hanging around the wrong crowd, became a leader in that crowd, and got involved in all sorts of evil and juvenile delinquency, God, in His divine grace and mercy decided to draw me to Himself. My best friend’s mother started a youth group at a small church in the town we lived in. Since it was his mother, he had to go. He invited me, and since they did a lot of fun activities, I went.
I knew that I could fool my parents, lie to my teachers or the police, and get out of trouble. But for the first time in my life, I knew that I would, one day, face God almighty and that I couldn’t fool Him or lie my way out of His judgment. That night, I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior. The seeds of the Gospel that my Gram had lovingly planted over the years sprung forth into the fruit of eternal life.
I immediately saw the promise of 2 Corinthians 5:17 begin to come true. Old things passed away, and all things started becoming new. My brother trusted Christ at my baptism. A year later, my Dad received Christ at an evangelistic service at our church. About a year and a half after, my Mom got saved at another evangelistic service at our church.
One Christmas, we decided to buy a new Bible for my other grandmother. The family chose me to write a personal note to Gram Humphrey in the Bible, sharing our love and our heart for her and the plan of salvation. Within months, my other grandmother surrendered her life to the Savior!
After going to a number of Christian camps and working at them during the summers, I graduated from high school and went to Word of Life Bible Institute. After graduating from Word of Life, I had planned to go on to Liberty University and then to Dallas Theological Seminary. As graduation approached, though my father counseled me that he felt I should come home to New Hampshire.
Since he felt very strongly about it, I felt that I needed to submit to his authority and leadership in my life. So, I went home, got a job, started going to college nights at a local business college, and got involved in serving the Lord in youth, college, and career ministries. Four months later, I found out one of the reasons why the Lord had directed me home through the counsel of my dad. My mom, who had been a Christian for only a few years, died suddenly. My dad, brother, and I were there. I firmly believe that God wanted me home to be there on that day and the days ahead to support my dad and the rest of the family and to provide comfort and leadership to them. Although they had started growing in Christ, I was still the spiritual leader of the family. I had the privilege of preaching at my Mom’s funeral. In that service, I had the wonderful privilege of seeing my older sister (who had been married and out of the home while the Lord was reaching the rest of us) come to know Christ!
I would later see my dad marry the widow, Sandy, who had started the youth group where I got saved. In God’s divine sense of humor, my spiritual mom became my stepmom and my best friend became my stepbrother as well!
In May of 1999, I had the privilege of preaching the funeral for Gram Rogers. It was a glorious tribute to the life she lived and the Savior she loved. In that service, I had the privilege of sharing the gospel and seeing one of my aunts led to Christ by Sandy.
It is critically important in today’s world that we address the importance of creating a strong and lasting family legacy. People need to help instill within their children and grandchildren a sense of their identity and destiny. Parents need to start being intentional and proactive if they want to prepare their heirs to be wise stewards of their time, talents, treasures, and their family’s leadership and influence. More families need to be intentional about passing on their virtues, values, ministry vision and even their faith to their children and grandchildren!
What about your legacy? Are you a grandparent (or parent) who needs to be intentional and proactive in sharing your faith with your children and grandchildren like my Gram Rogers did for my family and me? Are you modeling good stewardship and a life of generosity to your grandchildren and children? Are you investing in eternity and laying up your treasures in heaven? What other virtues (character qualities) would you like to see modeled in the lives of your grandchildren and children and future generations? Have you shared with your family the story of your life and the testimony of God’s grace on your life? If not, you should! It’s part of your legacy as a grandparent or parent!
If you would like to know ways that you can be more intentional and proactive in living out a legacy as a grandparent or parent, please contact me and I’ll be happy to share some ideas with you.
The Rest of the Story
In November 2005, Sandy went home to be with her Lord after an extended illness. She had lived a life of faithfulness, led many Bible studies, sung hymns, and discipled many people. At her funeral, her son Butch, one of my best friends and now my stepbrother had the privilege of singing, and I had the privilege of sharing a testimony of the many lives that were touched, directly and indirectly through her life. I am one of those lives she touched! Like the shoe repairman who led D.L. Moody to Christ, her legacy will ripple throughout eternity, not only through the lives she touched directly, but through the lives of those others, including mine who are impacting the cause of Christ around the world! Two ladies who left a godly legacy, my grandmother and my stepmother!
I am writing the story of my life, and I want to write it well, to live it well, and to leave a legacy that will ripple throughout Eternity! Soli Deo Gloria!
How will you write the story of your life? What kind of legacy will you leave in eternity? What will your family legacy look like? Have you properly planned your business legacy? If any of those are no, please give me a call. We should talk.
Jeff Rogers, CKA, CEP, is a highly sought after Family Legacy Coach and a thought leader in the areas of Stewarding your Family Legacy and Business Legacy. In addition to being a co-author of unprepared Heirs at Risk: 14 Elements for Successful Wealth Transfer, Jeff is also a ForbesBooks featured author of Create a Thriving Family Legacy: How to Share Wealth and Wisdom with Your Children and Grandchildren. Jeff is the Founder and Chairman of Stewardship Legacy Coaching and Stewardship Advisory Group (www.StewardshipLegacy.com). He has over 35 years of experience in helping clients create a Thriving Family Legacy. For many business owners, the sale or transition of their business will be the largest single financial transaction of their lives; so it must be stewarded well! Jeff also assists them in creating “Kingdom Capital™” by redirecting tax dollars to their favorite ministries. Jeff has been actively involved with numerous ministries and charities, both local and national for over 35 years. Jeff is a Charter Member of Kingdom Advisors and has earned the Certified Kingdom Advisor® designation.