Generous Living: Getting Started

Kathy stopped by to see Pastor Judy.

"My friend Liz just took emergency leave. Her dad had a stroke, and her mom has dementia. It's a mess. Social services. Lawyers. Nothing written down. John and I don't want it like that with us."

"How can I help?" Judy asked.

"It hit me that you said we should have an estate plan, but where do we start?"

Pastor Judy reassured her, "I actually have a simple formula that can get you started right now. I know getting started can be hard, but I like to simplify the process with five Ps. It starts with prayer."

"Prayer?" asked Kathy. "I expected a huge stack of forms to fill out."

Judy laughed. "Actually, what I mean is that if you are getting ready to make important decisions that will affect your life and relationships, you need to begin by asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment—especially if it will likely end with filling out legal forms!"

Judy shifted in her chair and leaned forward. "Once you and John have invited God into the process, you can then consider the second P: All the people who are important to you. Children. Parents. Ministries. Each other. God gives us people in our lives to whom we have a moral responsibility. They can be close family or complete strangers served through ministries around the world. Everyone has a different list, and everyone has to set priorities."

"That makes a lot of sense," said Kathy.

"For the third P, you should review your property. That includes all the assets you have available to meet needs and show care and concern for the people you love."

Kathy groaned. "Does that mean we will have to dig through all our bank statements and records?"

"Not at all," Judy replied. "Getting started doesn't require absolute precision, but to make wise decisions, you need a general picture of what you have and how much it's worth."

Judy continued. "Once you have people and property in mind, you can now move to the fourth P, the plan. You mentioned filling out forms, but a plan is more than forms or documents. Crafting a solid plan involves applying your deepest held values to set priorities, express love, declare allegiance to Christ, and model generosity. Do you see why prayer leads the way?"

Kathy nodded.

"And a plan requires planners," Judy concluded. "That's our fifth P. Finding and engaging experts with knowledge and shared values will ease the way."

"Prayer, People, Property, Plans, and Planners," Kathy counted them on her fingers as she spoke. "5 Ps. I'm glad I stopped to see you."

Judy smiled. "Me too. Busy lives encourage us to put off estate planning to a day that never comes. You paused and took some intentional time to get answers. That will make a difference."

"Well, pause makes six Ps!" Kathy laughed. "Your list is growing! I will talk to John tonight. I can't tell you how helpful this has been."

"Glad to hear it," Judy replied. "The church is more than Sunday morning."